By Scott Forrester, Ph.D.
The NIRSA Foundation is committed to supporting the future of collegiate recreation through funding research and professional development opportunities for its members. For years, the Foundation and the collegiate recreation profession has championed the benefits of participation in campus recreational sports, activities, facilities, programs, and services. While there was a time when the evidence to support these claims was anecdotal or rooted in the general experiences of practitioners, there is a growing body of literature that is substantiating these claims and providing credible evidence documenting the value of campus recreational sports on college and university campuses. The Benefits of Campus Recreation, funded by generous donors to the NIRSA Foundation, is one such body of literature.
This specific study reports results from the Recreation and Wellness Benchmark/Survey used as part of the 2013 NASPA Assessment and Knowledge Consortium, a collection of assessment instruments focused on key areas within student affairs. The Benefits of Campus Recreation represents the most comprehensive effort to date to substantiate the impact of participation in campus recreational sports, activities, facilities, programs and services on student recruitment and retention, and various health and wellness as well as student learning outcomes.
Over 33,500 students from 38 different colleges and universities across the United States participated in this study. When taking into account the approximate student population of all 38 colleges and universities combined in this study—almost 580,000 students—we can be 99% confident that the sampling error associated with the results of this study is less than 1%—thereby providing some very credible, accurate, and compelling results.
Key findings from the study include that students who participate in recreational sports opportunities have increased retention rates, improved health and wellness, and strengthen the soft-skills associated with higher education. Those who participate often and in a range of opportunities benefit even more. While some of these findings may largely confirm what NIRSA members already know, having credible, tangible, and citable data will only help you advocate and demonstrate the value of campus recreational sports on your campus.
The NIRSA Foundation is committed to supporting the future of collegiate recreation by funding research and professional development opportunities for campus rec students and professionals. In line with this commitment, it has made The Benefits of Campus Recreation available to all NIRSA members. You can find the complete study on the NIRSA website.
For more information about The Benefits of Campus Recreation, please contact NIRSA Membership.