Participation in school sports do not excuse student-athletes from being required to take a Physical Education class at McNicholas High School. McNicholas High School still requires students to take two semesters of PE while they are enrolled. PE I is focused more so on learning sports, and PE II is focused on weightlifting and running.
Sports demand a physical tax on student-athletes every single day. Sports seasons are rigorous and hours upon hours of conditioning and practice shape athletes to be in their peak physical condition.
Jackie Geygan, who is a senior at McNicholas, plays tennis, basketball, and softball. Her participation in these sports ensures that she stays in shape and develops social abilities at the same time. “I’d much rather be able to take a different elective, or even study hall in place of a gym class. This would allow me to manage my schoolwork better,” she explained. She described basketball as her most rigorous conditioning schedule, “There is a lot of running and agility exercises. I’m already getting exercise in these sports, so gym class being required doesn’t make much sense to me.”
The State of Ohio said schools may adopt a policy that excuses students who have “participated in interscholastic athletics, marching band, or cheerleading for at least two full seasons.” If the school board or administration decides to adopt this policy, the students who meet these criteria would be exempt from Physical Education courses as a condition to graduate. With a policy like this in place, students would be able to complete another course of study. Some schools in the Cincinnati area have adopted this policy, such as Summit Country Day.
Matthew Wehrman, who works as a guidance counselor and as the JV softball coach, says he has mixed feelings about this sometimes controversial policy. As a coach he said that he believes that the sport should count but as a counselor, he said he would fear that students would join sports for the wrong reasons.
Director of Curriculum Dan Rosenbaum expressed the same sentiment. “I would fear that students would only participate in the sport for the gym credit,” he said. Rosenbaum coached cross country when he worked as a math teacher at McNicholas. Rosenbaum also explained that Health class is a state requirement, and that PE I matches up nicely as the course the opposite semester.
Even if students do join for the wrong reasons, it would teach them how to start something new and maybe venture outside of their comfort zone. According to Shapeamerica.org the goal of physical education is “to develop literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.” Sports teach all of these aspects of physical activity plus more: bettering physical skills, learning from failure, holding yourself accountable to teammates, and learning to take coaching and instruction. Sports also encourage social interaction, and learning how to work together for a common purpose.
McNicholas should enact the policy that the State of Ohio offers. It would encourage students to try something new, and allow students to take other courses that would better serve them during the school day instead of a PE class.