METUCHEN, NJ - Sports have acquired an almost religious status in many segments of our society. March Madness is rivaled only by the fervor generated by the NFL season and the march to the Super Bowl. No matter the season, we can satiate ourselves on sporting events both in person and on TV.

At St. Joseph’s High School we believe sports are an important component of a student’s educational experience as both participant and spectator.   Sports enhance classroom lessons regarding teamwork, dedication, dealing with adversity, integrity and allocating time commitments.

Sports are indeed one component of a holistic education but they should not become the sole reason to select a school or play a particular sport. Many parents choose a high school because they believe the sport, or playing for a particular coach, will give their child a greater chance for a college scholarship. Many AAU participants forego their high school team experience because of the lure of college scholarships.   

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While a college coach may be initially drawn to a particular student because of athletic skill, he or she will always also examine the academic skills. While a college admission officer looks at both athletic and non-athletic extra-curricular activities, he or she always also closely examines the academic portion of a student’s application.

According to a 2012 CBS News report, only 2 percent of high school athletes nationwide receive an athletic scholarship for college.  Most athletic scholarships are partial. The average scholarship amount for the 2 percent who receive money is $11,000. Only 6 sports offer full ride scholarships: football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, volleyball and tennis.  

The percentage of college athletes who make it to the professional ranks is even lower. While the statistics for academic awards vary greatly, there exist many more opportunities for “good students” than for “good athletes.”

At Saint Joseph’s we believe in a strong athletic program that complements and is secondary to the both academic and faith components of our school. Our focus has always been faith, academics, sports, extra and co-curricular activities.  We have been fortunate over the years to have several high profile athletes who have received full athletic scholarships to play a sport in college. However, the amount of athletic scholarships awarded to our athletes pales in comparison to the academic scholarships garnered by our students.

In 2013, 150 out of 185 seniors in St. Joseph’s graduating class received college scholarships. Only 14 scholarships, or 9 percent, were for athletics. This is quite an achievement for a small school and we recognize the significance of this accomplishment. At the same time, we recognize that the overwhelming majority of scholarship recipients from our school were academic in nature.

Numerous nationwide studies have shown that students who are involved in sports or other extracurricular activities do better academically. We believe St. Joseph’s strong athletic and extracurricular program enhances the academic achievements of our students. We urge our students to get involved in a myriad of our more than 50 clubs and activities in addition to athletics.

We urge our parents to support their child and help him succeed in whatever he chooses to do. We urge parents to keep their child’s activities in perspective and help him realize that the most important part of youth and high school activities is the fun of being part of something greater than self.

It is the working together that teaches the most valuable lessons. Sports are great, in the proper perspective.