Sporting wins lead to poorer grades

Does winning at football make male students less intelligent?

Not as clever as we look

Inside Higher Ed has a report on a piece of research which suggests that as football teams win, male students’ grades lose. This is American college football we’re talking about here which has a rather different set up to university sport in the UK:

Supporters cite the revenue many programs generate, the binding effect the teams can have for alumni, students and others, and the increased attention the teams can bring to their institutions (which, scandals aside, is often publicity that money can’t buy). The list of “cons” to counter those “pros” includes compromises in admissions (to enroll the best players) and academic rigor (to keep them eligible to play), misalignment of resources (like putting players up at hotels before home games when library hours are being cut), and the same publicity when scandal (inevitably?) erupts.

A new study released Monday by the National Bureau for Economic Research suggests adding one item to the latter list: Winning football teams make male students stupider.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate. Male students don’t actually get stupider if their football teams win more; their grades just drop.

It’s a fascinating piece – it looks like winning ways means more celebration, drinking and partying and hence less quality studying time. But there is a marked difference between male and female players with the latter seeming to be far more restrained than their male counterparts. Although UK university sports teams undoubtedly do like to celebrate, the fact that there is nothing like the huge levels of spend on US college sports, especially football, and that the stakes are really not as high, makes this a less likely scenario. I hope.

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