By Staff Writers Evie Sun and Helen Wang
Until 2014, FUSD students were granted physical education (P.E.) credits if they participated in any sport and met a designated quota of hours. The policy allowed student athletes to be exempt from a P.E. course or to take an athletic P.E. class at the end of the day. However, the District repealed the policy to stay aligned with the state education standards, as they had faced concerns about the fairness and integrity of the policy. “I believe the impetus behind the changing of the program was centered around equity, fairness, and an adherence to state standards [for] somebody who was receiving credit,” said Principal Zack Larsen. Currently, marching band and colorguard are the only classes that can be taken for P.E. credits.
As any student-athlete can confirm, joining a school sports team is a uniquely positive experience and it offers benefits that are not present in a standard P.E. class. For example, participating on a school sports team builds camaraderie among teammates, encourages athletes to work together towards a mutual goal, and provides students with a great sense of accomplishment. “From my experience, a lot of the time, the athletic effort put into being on a sports team is much greater than [that in] a P.E. class,” said Cross Country Captain Senior Tom Scrutton. Being on a school sports team allows students to represent their schools through athletic achievement and establish healthier lifestyles for themselves. In order to succeed as athletes, these students must be responsible, respectful, disciplined, and mature. Students-athletes often feel overwhelmed from long practice schedules and weekly meets and games. According to a report from the Smoke Signal, 44 percent of student athletes play sports for more than 10 hours per week, and 40 percent spend more than four hours per day on academics. To alleviate the stress that comes with managing a heavy workload and a busy sports agenda, students could replace physical education with a study hall period that would allow them to finish their homework and study for tests before practices or games. A study hall period can help students lead healthier lifestyles as they find a balance between school work and athletics. Athletes who would be exempt from P.E. should only be allowed to take a study hall, so that athletes would not have an advantage over other students in terms of academics and juggle the added stress from the class.
Some argue that if this policy is put in place, many students will drop out of the P.E. program. However, not everyone can be easily exempt from the P.E. curriculum. When the policy was in place two years ago, it was meant for Varsity players who had to meet a certain quota of hours per week. “They [the District] got a little tighter on exempting individuals from P.E. for outside activities because there were individuals who were getting credit for outside activities that probably weren’t legitimate,” said Athletic Director Thomas Thomsen. Not only does this strict quota have to be approved by a coach for legitimacy, it also has to be verified on an annual basis. In this way, it is extremely difficult for anyone to be exempt from P.E., and only a few athletes would be eligible.
Others argue that this policy would cause a decrease in P.E. classes, threatening the jobs of P.E. teachers. However, P.E. teachers could teach a special conditioning or agility class for athletes who want to hone and further improve their physical strength and stamina. With the influx of students attending MSJ, P.E. classes are overcrowded, and giving credit would reduce the number of students taking P.E.
Student-athletes already dedicate a significant portion of their day to sports. Instead of spending even more time on P.E. during the day, these students could be spending their time more efficiently, whether it be a study hall class to lessen their workload or in specialized training. Ultimately, a change in the P.E. credit policies could lead to decreased levels of stress and a healthier lifestyle for all student athletes.
Graphic by Staff Writer Evangeline Chang