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Herbert W. Marsh

The effects of participation in sport during the last 2 years of high school were examined by use of the nationally (United States) representative High School and Beyond data collected between 1980 and 1984. After background variables and outcomes collected during the sophomore year of high school were controlled for, sport participation positively affected 14 of 22 senior and postsecondary outcomes (e.g., social and academic self-concept, educational aspirations, course work selection, homework, reduced absenteeism, and subsequent college attendance) and had no negative effects on the remaining 8 variables. These positive effects were robust, generalizing across individual characteristics (race, socioeconomic status, sex, and ability level), school size, and school climates (academic, social, and sport). The positive effects of sport participation were mediated by academic self-concept and educational aspirations, supporting the proposal that sport participation enhances identification with the school.