Gym Class Requirements could be Fulfilled by Athletes

By J1 Reporter Emily Martin

Being an athlete in any sport requires time on and off the court or field. Student-athletes spend the majority  of their week at school, practices, games and tournaments. The state graduation requirements for health and physical education require at least two credits for PE. Marian offers a variety of  PE classes for students. Introduction to Wellness is required for every student, but they get to choose which class they want to take for their remaining PE credit. These courses include team sports, lifetime fitness, dual sports, and weight training. 

Marian offers two PE classes during the summer for students who would like to take more classes or free up their schedule. “Most girls get enjoyment out of the PE class because it is a different type of learning. Being active in the school day is important and PE is the one class where that can happen,” Assistant Principal Mrs. Jen Christen said. “We added the summer PE classes that count for the PE credit, which is helpful for the really driven student that wants to take many different classes at Marian to open up her schedule.” 

So why should student-athletes be required to partake in physical activity if they already do that every day in practice? Junior Ashley Wilwerding explains that “many students spend countless hours working on their sport and in this time they are exercising and learning similar things they do in PE.” 

The administration at Marian has discussed whether this idea would be beneficial or not. “We have talked about that as an administrative team, but we could never come to a consensus,” Christen said. 

Many student-athletes spend countless hours trying to make sure all their homework is complete. Time management is key when it comes to busy school nights and weekends. “Practicing every day after school, games on school nights, and tournaments on the weekend can be very stressful,” Wilwerding says, reflecting from freshman year to current playing varsity volleyball and basketball. “I find myself looking ahead at my schedule to get what I can get done for school when I have time, so it is not as busy during the week.” 

If the administration can come to an agreement, this could possibly change in the future. “I definitely think we will put it on the table again and discuss it,” Christen said. 

Wilwerding says reflecting on this possibility, “This would benefit me by opening up my schedule to take other classes I am interested in.” 

In an article in 2015 from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) approved to take the requirement out of a PE class for student-athletes. This allowed those students to free up their schedules. The Arizona Daily Star was told from the board members that it was to help take away stress and lessen workloads. However, playing the sport does not guarantee that student exemption for the PE credit. They take a physical fitness test at the end of their sport season in order  to earn the PE credit. 

The TUSD students are required to have one PE credit in order to graduate. One season of any sports, except volleyball and tennis, offered at that school counts for the credit. Volleyball and tennis require two seasons as it does not meet the time for a PE credit. 

This has been done in many other states as well. Texas allows the student-athletes to take a PE class, but use that time to prepare for games by watching film, lifting weights, or use that time to work on other classes. In Idaho, they allowed students who partake in a school sport and club sport be exempted from taking a PE class. Indiana has also allowed this as well as adding independent learning  programs that are taken by mostly student-athletes that meet the requirements of a traditional class experience.

Marian PE class plays wiffle ball during Block G on January 24.

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