Protest against physical education

Cooper Anderson, Reporter

Physical Education (PE) class has been one of the most dreaded classes in history for some students. If you are like me, you probably cringe just hearing the word “PE.” We all have horror stories from gym class, whether it be the time you were hit in the face with a volleyball, fitness testing, or running laps around the track until you simply can’t anymore. As someone who is not the biggest fan of gym class, I have never quite understood why it is required for all students. Illinois is one of six states in the U.S. that mandates PE classes in grades K-12. I truly believe there are more effective ways students can be using their time, if they do not have any interest in PE. It should not be a mandatory class for all students. 

To me, it is way more understandable for PE to be required for students in elementary school, middle school, and even in the beginning of high school. I will not discredit gym class for some of the valuable lessons it teaches young students about the importance of exercise and overall physical well-being. As a former athlete myself, I completely recognize the benefits of being physically active and the wonders it can do for your health, both physically and mentally. 

On the other hand, once you have reached junior year, I believe it is an acceptable time for students to have the option of not taking a PE class. We have a lot on our plates, and with college just around the corner, it is more logical to allow us to take classes we have a true interest in. Taking PE may not seem like the biggest sacrifice, but it is. When the time comes to choose classes each year, it is annoying knowing you have to save a spot on your schedule for gym class. Personally, I would much rather be using PE time to take advantage of the various electives LT offers, to prepare for future careers and possible college majors. It is important for us upperclassmen to maximize our time in our final years of high school, and for some of us, PE gets in the way of that. 

It is also worth mentioning the current curriculum of PE class. Throughout my nearly 12 years of being a student in gym class, I couldn’t help but notice how most of what we learn and test on seems redundant. I am not the biggest fan of playing sports in the first place, but having to take written tests on sports like basketball and volleyball is even worse. Why are we making students take a class that is mainly focused on sports, if that is not what they are interested in? Every time I have to take one of these tests, it always seems so pointless. I am constantly thinking of how I could have been using this time to take a class that mattered to me. This brings me to my point of making gym class an elective that is optional for students. There are many students that love sports and would definitely jump at the opportunity to take a class like PE, and that is totally fine; I just don’t understand why it is forced upon everyone. 

Not only do we learn about the technicalities of sports, but we also learn about general health and nutrition in PE. I fully support health being integrated into the PE curriculum, but at the same time,  have found it less effective than it should be. For me, sitting down and watching five minute TED-Ed videos on carbohydrates and protein is not helpful, and I am not able to retain nearly anything. When it comes time to test, I feel unprepared and do not remember much information. In order for the health aspect of PE to be more useful for students, it requires more focus in the curriculum, which it does not seem to have. 

I know that I am not the only one at my school who opposes PE class. Students would be so much happier and successful, if they were able to choose a class that they were passionate and excited about. It is time we stop requiring PE for upperclassmen; it is clear it is no longer beneficial for them.