Eye on Education

Study: Having a Winning Football Team Hurts Male Students’ Grades

Chris Metcalf / Flickr

Inside Higher Ed reports that winning football teams hurt the grades of male students.

A study from University of Oregon researchers looked at grade point averages for non-athlete undergrads at their school over eight years and compared them to the win record of the school’s football team. Here’s what they discovered:

We find that the team’s success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Using survey data, we find that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving.

(Read the full study below.)

The researchers find suggestions that the academic effects of having a winning football team are worse for students who are African American, from lower-income families or have lower high school GPAs and SAT scores.

They write:

As such, our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education.

By the way, Ohio State is 6-6 this season. The University of Cincinnati is 9-3 and Kent State is 5-7.

Do you agree that college football is a threat to higher ed? Disagree? Rooting for Michigan?

Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement?


  • Kat

    Focusing on sports minimizes the importance of intellectual pursuits, degrades educational institutions, and in some cases, promotes violence and aggression. Participation in sports is of great value. However, most people are not participants but, rather, passive, boorish consumers of sports — a very different thing.

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