Observer Opinion: Credit for school sports is a slam-dunk


Photo by Collin Chen

WCHS students sitting on the bleachers during PE class on September 30th.

By Collin Chen, Online Editor

Currently, one of the high school graduation requirements in Maryland is one full year of physical education. However, is it necessary to spend a whole school year learning to be physically active? Could a policy be implemented to give a physical education credit to students that have participated in a varsity sport? 

This proposed policy would permit students who have participated in a junior varsity or varsity sport for at least two years or more, to receive the credit. To claim the credit, students would have their school coaches sign a form that the students will then give to their counselors.

This would be a positive change because the purpose of physical education is for students to learn how to be physically active and develop motor skills for physical fitness. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s, about 57% of high school students played on at least one school or community sports team in the past year. And for a school such as WCHS, that has a large and successful athletics program, wouldn’t most of these student-athletes already have sufficient levels of physical education? Simply put, the answer is yes.

Through my observations and opinions of high school students, one can see that most treat physical education as a free period. Often you will see students slacking off during the activities – some not participating at all – and teachers not doing anything about it. Along with that, the PE curriculums have few graded tasks – most of which require the bare minimum of effort. For example, in yoga classes, students can be seen sleeping on the floors or walking around the track. In essence, the whole system is set up for students to waste 45 minutes of school to earn a wasteful credit.

It is important to note that each period is only 45 minutes maximum. With the time it takes to change in the locker room, get situated for class and then go back to the locker room to change again, there is barely enough time for any activities or lessons. The goal to have students meet their physical activity requirements is understandable, but a 45 minute class is not enough time to have a significant effect on the overall, physical health of students.

On the other hand, student-athletes spend multiple hours after school practicing and competing in their sport – which consists of proper physical activity. Along with training athletes for up to several hours a day, sports successfully develop kids’ motor skills and teach the importance of fitness. The knowledge and skills students learn from participating in sports will serve them well for the rest of their lives. 

The major benefit of eliminating a mandatory PE course is students can use the free period to take another more beneficial course. Besides the PE credit, there are many other credits that students must meet to graduate. Within the four years of high school, meeting all these credits is relatively easy, but having an additional free period would give students another opportunity to explore more electives; the purpose of high school is to prepare kids for college and discover their interests, and having more opportunities to take electives gives students a better understanding of their interests and possible career choices.

PE requirements have existed, throughout the country, for decades. But, with such a considerable athletic scene in Montgomery County, the graduation requirement is unnecessary for student-athletes. Waving the obligation for students already invested in school sports will promote them to pursue new interests and properly delegate their time at school to academics.