Varsity athletes should not be required to take gym

March 10, 2017, 1:40 p.m. | By Ellie Williams | 7 years, 3 months ago

The physical education requirement is fulfilled when students are on sports teams

Every high schooler has to take one year of a physical education course in order to graduate. However, when students participate in school or club sports, they are getting the exercise that Physical Education (PE) classes provide, and should be exempt.

The importance of a required gym course in high school is to start healthy exercise habits and encourage students to stay in shape. For students who aren't involved in sports, this is a course that provides them with a way to stay active. But for student athletes, this course is redundant because the importance of exercise is already being gleaned from their participation in varsity-level sports. Varsity sports practice up to six times a week for upwards of two to three hours, with seasons ranging from three months to year-round. With each sport comes a unique training and strengthening program that should count towards a student's gym requirement.

With the extra commitments sports require from students, they should be able to opt out of a PE class and take something to advance their academic careers such as study halls. This would help student athletes stay on top of homework when they are staying late at school for practices or games.

The average student athlete spends 12 hours practicing a week. Photo courtesy of Morgan Casey.

Some parents and administrators claim that this system would be unfair and grant a special privilege to students who play sports. Junior Madeleine Allou believes exempting athletes from any course shouldn't be allowed. "I feel that athletes should be able to manage all school classes while still being able to keep up with their sport," Allou said. However, if the requirement was changed to a study period for student athletes, they would receive no advantage in being able to take more classes than another student. They wouldn't have any advantages, as both classes would receive grades, and both classes would benefit the students' individual needs of either physical education or study time.

Another concern is that teachings in PE courses at school could interfere with a student's success in their sport. Getting injured in gym class can affect an athlete's performance. For example, getting a concussion while in gym could ruin an athlete's chances of playing all season. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a survey of emergency room reports of P.E.-related injuries in children, and found that in 2007 there were roughly 60,000 reports. Additionally, exercise regimens or techniques taught in class could conflict with those of coaches.

Athletes have less time to do work with games and practice, so an extra period would help alleviate the burden. Photo courtesy of Morgan Casey.

At no disadvantage to students who don't participate in sports, athletes should be exempt from the PE requirement in high school, as they already get enough exercise from sports. The importance of lifelong healthy habits is being instilled outside of school; therefore, there is no need for students to supplement this with an average of three hours of gym class per week. In order to further their studies and avoid injury, student athletes should instead take a study period.

Tags: sports Student athletes gym class gym requirement Madeleine Allou Physical Education

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