OPINION: Student athletes should be given P.E. credit

Mya Cummins

When my counselor told me taking physical education (P.E.) was a graduation requirement, my first thought was that I don’t need to be educated on how to stay physically active because I play a sport. Doesn’t the sport I play and team I’m on count as physical education?

My name and face are plastered in the yearbook under the girls field hockey section, so Manual is well aware that I play a sport. Most of my physical education has actually come from field hockey, as I have practice ranging anywhere from four to ten hours a week between both my club and school team. I put a lot of time and sweat into my sport, so I was upset to learn that JCPS could care less if I play and that I’d  still have to take P.E. class. 

JCPS should let kids count their involvement in school sports as credit for P.E., not only because it’s physical exercise but also because being on a team teaches students lessons that you simply can’t learn in a class setting. It actually may encourage more kids to join or stick with a sport throughout high school. 

Personally, I’ve had somewhat of a unique experience with my high school P.E course. I failed to take it freshman year because it simply didn’t fit into my schedule. Other kids who’d faced similar issues recommended that I take it over the summer instead of trying to cram it in. Last summer I enrolled, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions the course was moved online. So I spent my summer and part of the first semester fulfilling this graduation requirement, which consisted of videos, PowerPoint presentations and online quizzes. 

So what did I learn from my physical education course? Well, do you want to know the history of baseball? Do you need me to explain how to keep score in tennis? How about the proper way to kick a soccer ball? To be fair, there were some topics in the course that are important to know, like healthy eating habits; however, they were also all things I had been taught in elementary school. I could have skated through life without having taken my high school P.E. course, not to mention have had some extra time on my hands to actually be physically active, instead of being on the computer. 

I’ve learned a lot more about physical exercise from playing field hockey. I learned how to get in shape, how to stay in shape, what to eat to build muscle and how to approach all of these things in a healthy manner. I also learned things that you don’t retain from a single semester of P.E., like time management, commitment and sportsmanship. These qualities are all things I can apply to life in and out of school. 

“I feel like my sport has kept me active throughout quarantine,” Mia Leo (10, J&C), part of the girls lacrosse team, said. Leo also believes playing lacrosse has educated her more about physical exercise then  her P.E. class.

 Teaching physical education has become significantly harder since classes have moved online. 

So far, my P.E. teacher has assigned the class simple equipment-less workout routines that we will complete as he directs,” Annie Keicken (9, J&C) said, “… sometimes I question whether or not we have enough time to adequately cover and learn the material, since I spend drastically less time completing assignments for P.E. in comparison to any of my other classes.”

JCPS should consider counting sports as P.E. credit, especially now that P.E. is being taught virtually while high school sports have stayed in session. It would be both more efficient and encouraging to students.

I can say with confidence that I was disappointed with my mandatory physical education class. To me it was nothing but a means to an end and I did it purely because it was required. I learned nothing new from it. However, that was my personal experience as a student athlete and I can acknowledge some students may benefit from taking a P.E. course, especially if they may not regularly exercise. 

“I’m an athlete. I’d recommend every athlete to take P.E. It’s also a great way to get exercise and stay in shape,” Julian Wallace (10, HSU) said,  “I don’t think it should be a requirement but it should definitely be taken by students who don’t participate in any physical activity at school.” 

High school sports are physical activities that are sponsored by the school. During their season, student athletes are consumed with their sport and it takes up a majority of their after school time. To be told that JCPS won’t consider your sport as a physical activity or a learning opportunity is kind of a slap in the face. Student athletes should be given credit where credit is due. Unlike my P.E. course, I put a lot more effort and dedication into my sport and I believe it should count for something; more specifically, my P.E. credit.