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Redwood Bark

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The case for no PE requirement for student athletes

Three days a week, students in their freshman and sophomore years at Redwood spend a period in Physical Education (PE) class for a combined 144 hours. This class aims to help students be active and develop fine motor skills. However, for student-athletes, the excess hours of working on their PE goals are not beneficial, as these athletes are already getting exercise at least five days a week after school.

 All of the hours that student-athletes spend in PE would be better spent in the library studying or doing homework. Sophomore Dylan McGrath believes that PE is a waste of time during the seasons full of playing high school sports.

“PE ends up being a social hour for me. I’d much rather be getting work done that I struggle with completing after school and sports,” McGrath said.

Although many students may feel like PE creates a fun environment, 60 percent of student-athletes agree with McGrath, saying that PE is not beneficial to them. Many private schools in Marin do not require students to participate in PE, so what is Redwood’s benefit of forcing athletes to partake in PE? In the recent Redwood Bark survey more than 75 percent of Redwood student-athletes feel stressed about school after missing a class due to their sport and part of this is due to the useless time taken by PE. One solution to this dilemma would be an hour of study hall instead. Other news platforms feel that this is an ongoing issue as well.

The Daily American, an online news site believes that “If [PE] wasn’t required for student-athletes, they could potentially fit in more classes or fit in a study hall so they’re not up late at night working on homework. They could get a healthy amount of sleep to be more focused and prepared for their classes the next day.”

Girls’ varsity lacrosse player Lucy Jeffers brings an interesting solution to this issue.

“I would love PE to be half and half for the athletes, maybe even optional to participate and [a chance] to do homework in the library instead,” Jeffers said.

Recently, these PE classes have turned into more of a risk. The National Library of Medicine reports that one in every six students suffers an injury from PE. In my PE class this year and last year, I have witnessed a student break their arm in the frisbee unit and another student break their neck while tumbling in the gymnastics unit. These injuries are an unnecessary risk for a student-athlete who is already getting their recommended amount of exercise. 

California law leaves it up to the superintendent of schools to decipher the parameters around Physical Education. Redwood guidelines require two years of PE credits to graduate. There is no clear reason why athletes would have to complete this course.

In my sophomore PE class, we do a quick warmup with ten pushups and a couple of jumping jacks, and then we hop right into a sport that most of the class is not interested in. The athletes gather to play their more competitive game while other students play their own, less competitive game. By the end of the period, half of the class had disappeared or was sitting on the sidelines with a real or fake injury they acquired during their 30 minutes of exercise. 

“It’s always nice to get out of PE class, whether it’s from my sport or early release. I just feel like the physical aspect is not beneficial to me. I get 10 times more exercise during my sports after school. It’s a fun class but shouldn’t be required,” Jeffers said.

Some might argue that PE provides teachers jobs, but I constantly hear that PE classes are overflowing. If we took out the athletes during the season when they are playing sports, this issue would be solved. The average PE class at Redwood High School is 33 students; cutting out the athletes would narrow down this number to around 20. It is also said that PE provides students with a place to develop their fine motor skills and relationships with other classmates, but on sports teams, they are accomplishing these goals and spending more time with their teammates than they spend in class.

Some high school students play non-school-affiliated sports, such as our profound Marin Rowing program and other club teams around Marin. In this case, rules would have to be set on an individualized student-by-student basis, as there will be some gray area. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be changes to help student-athletes in their future careers.

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About the Contributor
Jake Post is a sophomore at Redwood High School and a cub reporter for the Bark. He loves playing basketball, hanging out with friends and going to Tahoe.