Required P.E.: Academics vs. health


Jacqueline Sumida

A shoe vs. a locker, academics versus general athletics. Who will win?

Physical education — the staple of the American school system. It’s been both glamorized and demonized in the media, praising jocks and beaning geeks in the head with dodgeballs for years. In a changing world of education, it seems to be the only constant throughout my school years.

Personally, I have never had any problems with gym class. I’ve always been an athletic, over-competitive person so gym was my complete outlet. Any game we played was fun and exciting, running was never a punishment and trips to the weight room were a welcome privilege. 

Most complaints about our required four-year P.E. credit come in two forms: the athletic variety and the academic variety.

The athletic one is the kind you hear in the locker room after a fitness day, the shouts of ‘running sucks’ and ‘gym is stupid’. In the moment all of these arguments seem extremely reasonable. After a grueling workout, I hate going to the gym, too.

But it’s really a necessary evil. Getting a little sweaty and moving around a little bit isn’t going to kill you. Yes, it’s harder to get back into jeans after pickleball and your hair will be wet after swimming, but these are temporary pains.

The only complaint I understand is the academic one. Gym takes up an entire class period during which I could be taking another AP class or a course that interests me. I had to readjust my entire schedule so that I could take advanced journalism during my junior year.

The solution was early bird gym, which turned out to be very fun and different from my previous gym classes. We chose the sports and activities we wanted to do and then did them. Other than getting to school at 7 a.m. and getting drilled square in the face by a dodgeball, I have no complaints.

By taking an early-bird gym, I was able to free some space in my schedule for my other academic pursuits. The benefits didn’t really end there because it meant I could also wear whatever I wanted during the school day, as I could take my sweet time changing in the morning. In reality, it meant I could wear my favorite pair of hi-top Vans for an entire school year. At the end of the day, it’s what the school requires and it’s what we have to deal with. Getting sweaty won’t ruin our lives, but it might prevent our academic achievements in the long run. Luckily, college doesn’t require stress management