Should student athletes be required to take PE?

Backlash has been growing among student athletes for some time in regards to the requirement of taking a physical education class, and their coaches agree.

It is currently a Massachusetts regulation that all students K-12 participate in PE, but many students are starting to question why. This measure is aimed at preventing obesity in adolescents. According to Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, only 14 percent of high schoolers in 2015 were obese.

Student athletes, along with some coaches, said that if you play a varsity sport, you should not have to partake in the physical portion of PE class.

“Student athletes should not be required to take a wellness class as they are already getting more than adequate physical activity in the sports they play,” junior lacrosse and hockey player DJ Sloan said. “Wellness classes should be made into a study for student athletes because they need more time for academic studies.”

Student athletes said that they would benefit from having more time for studies since they are busy after school with long practices. Spending an hour running around playing handball before a big game is not beneficial to an athlete or the team.

There has been talk among Student Council to give students who have a game after school a study period in replacement of PE class that day, but nothing has passed.

“I don’t think we should have to take gym,” three-sport varsity athlete James Adams says. “I don’t feel that it makes me tired for my games specifically, but having the time that gym takes up for either a study or just rest would be very beneficial.”

The girls varsity basketball coach Mike Greco agreed that students who play a varsity sport should be able to be excused from gym.

“I think students should have to take the wellness portion of PE like sex ed and classes like RAD because those are very important,” Greco said. “As far as the activity portion, I think the athletes in season should be able to some way be excused. We played last night at 6, stayed for the JV game after, and then didn’t get home until after 10. There are definitely nights where it is tough for the girls to get their homework done, and they would benefit from a study.”

Gym teachers and athletic director Dee King disagreed. The wellness department believes that wellness is more than just exercise and should be looked at as beneficial for their futures.

“All students should be required to take PE not only because it is a state law but because people nowadays are not getting as much activity in as they used to with all of the current transportation we have,” gym teacher Michael Hooker said. “Movement is more important than exercise.”

Wellness teachers feel very strongly about the classes they teach and their benefits on the students.

“Yes, student athletes are getting activity through their sport,” wellness department head Bruce Elliott said. “However in PE there is instruction and things that are being said and done in the class that is expanding students mindset around lifelong activities because somebody can’t play football for the rest of their life. So if they can broaden their horizons and learn different activities and exercises, that’s probably the biggest benefit that students will get. That’s why the state has mandated that PE be K-12 as a requirement in the state of Massachusetts.”

King agreed that everyone should participate in PE. “It is good to be active multiple times a day, and kids can go at their own pace,” she said.

Students who do not play sports also find it unfair if athletes were to have special privileges and be treated superior to them.

“I feel like everybody should be treated the same during school,” Emma Meek said. “It doesn’t matter what you do outside of school, that’s your choice.”