Sports Players and P.E. Credits: What is the Problem?

Student struggles to juggle coursework with P.E.

Student struggles to juggle coursework with P.E. / Photographer: Birdie Greening

As depicted in classic American movies, P.E. classes are a form of torture for students who are unable to run the mile or who have a tricky time climbing the rope that hangs, threateningly, in the middle of the gym. In reality, though, P.E. classes are just another credit to fill, another class to take in the middle of the school day. Or, if the class does not quite fit into your schedule, a class to take in the morning, before the sun is up.

In the past, Strength and Conditioning has been a class students can choose to add to their schedule in order to spend some extra time in the weight room, pinpointing certain muscles to strengthen and specific areas to improve on. Many students took the class in order to wake up and get their bodies moving before school started, or to stay in shape before their sport started. A few students took the class during their sport season in order to fit in a bit more conditioning.

This year, with Coach Ryan Wilson as the teacher, early morning Strength and Conditioning is directed towards working on a specific sport, and getting stronger and faster. For example, if a student plays basketball, that student would shoot hoops, practice one-on-ones, and practice skills specific to that sport during class. Students are encouraged to take care of their bodies, especially if they are playing another sport during the time, by stretching and massaging their muscles. Wilson specifies that “the ultimate goal of this class is to give students a chance to perform athletically at a higher level.”

Other P.E. classes offered for credit at OIHS are Yoga, Health, Freshmen P.E., and general P.E. Students are required to take two credits (four semesters) of a PE class, including one semester of Health. Wilson states that his Health class “explores what it means to live a healthy life and how to do so.” He says that if a student can take those two concepts away from his class, he will feel good about it. The class gives students useful information on how to take care of their bodies, which is not usually addressed in depth through school sports.

One of the most competitive classes to get into at OIHS is Yoga with Corey Wiscomb. In the semester-long class, students learn how to properly stretch without injuring themselves, and how to find peace in everyday activities. “It was great to be able to focus on myself for an hour and not compare my abilities to my peers,” said Skylar Dalusio, who took the class as a junior. Competitive school sports, while physically demanding, often do not concentrate on the athlete’s mental state unless it begins to interfere with the athlete’s ability to perform.

However, the other P.E. classes offered at the school are aimed towards getting students excited about participating in physical activity on a daily basis. Students play sports, games, do group core workouts, and go on runs outside. Wilson says that his “main focus along with getting students active is to get them active outside.” It is proven again and again that students are happier and healthier when they are physically active, and P.E. classes are a way to ensure that all students are getting exercise. But, for students who are active through sports which are school-regulated, P.E. credits can be a nuisance to fill. Why would these students, some of whom participate in three sports per year, need to take a class to get them excited about exercising?

Strength and Conditioning, which is a class dominated by student-athletes, is often a way for students who cannot otherwise fit a P.E. class into their schedule to fill their P.E. requirements. Many of the students in this semester’s Strength and Conditioning class begrudgingly pull themselves out of bed at six in the morning to fill this requirement, and a majority of these students are also playing a fall or winter sport. Student-athletes who take this class often spend almost 12 hours at school, as practices after school usually get out around 5:30 or 6 p.m. And for what cause? Of course, students and student-athletes alike should have the option to strengthen themselves outside of practice, improve their skills, and get their blood pumping before school, but student-athletes should also have the option to earn P.E. credits through their school-sports, as they spend more time per week in practices than they would in a P.E. class.