The purpose of this study was to analyse the effect that participating in extracurricular sporting activities has on academic performance among students in higher education. Prior research on this topic has yielded contradictory results: while some authors find a positive effect of sports participation on academic outcomes, others report a negative impact. Accordingly, the authors seek to provide a more rounded understanding of these mixed findings. The empirical evidence is provided by a panel dataset of undergraduate students who studied at a Spanish University over the period 2008-2014. The academic performance of sports participants are compared with those of non-participants in terms of their outcomes in the form of grades. Results reveal that participation in formal sporting activities is associated with higher grades among students at this university. The analysis reinforces the idea that apart from their health benefits for practitioners, sporting activities lead to the attainment of the performance goals to which higher education institutions aspire.