There is no doubt that physical education is an important part of high school. With obesity rates for American youth the highest in the world, kids need a chance to exercise and learn new activities and develop lifelong habits to get and stay fit.
Making any change to the two-year requirement for P.E. should not be taken lightly.
But as San Juan looks at revamping graduation requirements for the first time in two decades, the thoughtful proposal of a parent group (reported in this issues sports pages) adds muscle to the argument that student athletes should be exempted from a year of P.E.
It makes no sense for students who already participate in a school sport to spend extraneous time during the day doing lesser versions of the same exercises they already do in practices and games.
Today’s athletes are assaulted with copious amounts of work every day. Hours of homework are assigned each night, and other extracurriculars, such as Civitas and band, take up the remaining hours of the day.
Some may say that PE has benefits that are not a part of sports such as health tips that can be applied to day to day life, basic understandings of other sports, social interaction, and exercise for parts of the body not stretched in practice. These arguments are invalid.
Many health tips learned in P.E. overlap with those learned in the mandatory Health class and at their worst are basic regurgitated versions. Athletes are expected to know these tips anyways.
The so-called benefits of learning about other sports and what little social interaction there is does not justify a whole hour of a student’s already-busy schedule.
That one hour saved is not another hour hanging out with friends or catching up on “Breaking Bad.” That one hour is for keeping up with homework, or even grabbing some much needed sleep.
As a matter of fact, that extra hour can leave athletes exhausted and more vulnerable to injury. Most athletes already get at least 2 hours of exercise per day on a regular basis, and even during off-season athletes continue to go to the gym or even take up another sport to keep in shape.
P.E. can lead to students showing up to practice tired and increases the risk of injury. This can be detrimental to their high school athletic career, and even eliminate the possibility of a college scholarship.
This is not to say that the goals of P.E. classes should be ignored; in fact, they should be promoted vigorously. The problem is that it makes no logical sense for athletes to be a part of the target audience. Those who don’t take sports or have any other valid excuse would still find two years of physical education immensely helpful.
Taking even 1 year off of P.E. for athletes would be godsend for those with already-packed schedules filled with school, family functions, and of course, their sport.
We support the goals of physical education. Students need activity and instruction. However, there are other ways to get this in high school. Sports provide more than enough activity and instruction.
A student’s academic classes should never compromised because the student is being taught skills he or she has already learned in great excess.
This article displays the views of the editorial board.