District debates giving P.E. credit for school sports

Two-hour practice everyday after school will not only get student athletes ready for their next game,  it may also earn them physical education credit if the school board adopts a proposal by a parent group.

All students must take two years of P.E. to graduate. As part of a plan to revise graduation requirements, the district-wide group is proposing that athletes would still take freshman P.E. but would be exempted from a semester of P.E. if they played an interscholastic sport, up to two semesters of exemption.

The bill would require students taking advantage of the P.E. exemption would still be required to pass fitness tests.

The proposal began with Rio Americano Parent Engagement Group coordinated by Joy Wake and included parents from several schools, including Mira Loma and Del Campo.

“Athletes should get credit for P.E. through a sport, but only if it is a sport that is through the school,” said P.E. teacher Brian Davis. “If it is through the school, the athletes should have P.E. sixth period and begin their sports so practice ends earlier.”

Matt Shelby, a sophomore varsity water polo goalie said, “I think that if you participate in a varsity sport you should not have to take P.E. but if you are a freshman or junior varsity player than you should be required to take P.E.”

He practices in both the junior varsity, and varsity practices, and he said he could tell a noticeable difference between the two workouts.

While the proposal seems to have mostly favorable reviews, some disagree and feel P.E. should remain a requirement for all students.

Freshman water polo player Matt Dunn said sports practice does not replace the full P.E. curriculum. “I think we should have to do P.E. because it is good to learn about the body and how to keep yourself healthy,” he said.

Seeing a purpose of both P.E. and sports as maintaining physical fitness, freshman football team captain Michael McQuillan supports the proposal.

“The team already practices for two hours everyday,” McQuillan said. “We shouldn’t have to put in the other hour of physical activity.  It would make more sense for us to save our energy and put 100 percent out on the field.”

Team success, however, is not the motivation behind the proposal.

Many student athletes are in demanding programs, such as Civitas, band, Jr. ROTC or International Baccalaureate and have difficulty meeting all graduation requirements, the proposal states. Allowing P.E. credit for school sports, “gives students more opportunities for graduation requirement classes, enriching electives, U.C. recommended classes, special academy classes, intervention, study period, more sleep, engaging extracurricular activities, and summer demands, all specific to their personalized plan for college and career admission and success.”

Wake, the coordinator of the group said, “Student athletes who are already working out 2-3 hours a day should have the option to take P.E. so they do not have to participate in classes that are redundant to take.”

Not all parents agree that changing P.E. requirements would aide students.

Catherine Apker, a parent of two former students, and a daily weight-walker of the American River Parkway said, “Everyone should have to do P.E. because they learn different sports and doing a variety of different sports works out all of the muscles and doing only one sport works out the muscles required for that sport.”

She believes that people who run need to also work out their upper body.  She also stated that  sports like golf require minimal lower body muscles so they should workout that muscle group during P.E.

“That’s why I carry my weights in my hands!” said Apker before speed walking on.

Some parents who worked on the proposal believe it does not go far enough. They support allowing two years of P.E. exemption and including club sports.

The state allows district flexibility in meeting the two-year P.E. requirement. Several public districts and most private high schools (including Jesuit and St. Francis) allow a sports team exemption for P.E. The proposal is modeled on policies of Livermore High School, Granada High School and San Dieguito Union High School.

Athletes, coaches, and the district requirements all have very different goals.  The one sport that student athlete would play would only focus on that sport instead of PE which aims to cover most sports.