The Controversy Over the Student-Athlete Grind

Should student-athletes be required to take a P.E. class?

Opinion of Hannah Gellar

We have all heard it before, by teachers, coaches, parents and even players: “Playing a sport in high school helps to manage your time,” or “Student-athletes sometimes even do better in school.” Since constant expectations for high school athletes to do great in both the classroom and on the field are exceptionally high, why shouldn’t these athletes get school credit for their sport instead of taking a physical education class?
Don’t get me wrong, I love playing sports, however being a senior in high school and a varsity athlete is mentally and physically exhausting. Not to mention the fact that some seniors cannot even have early dismissal or late arrival due to the fact that they must take a P.E.  class.
Included in the requirements to graduate from East Lyme High School, the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 are required to have two credits (.5 credit each year) of P.E. in order to graduate. With the recent change in graduation requirements, the Class of 2021 will only be required to have 1.5 credits of P.E. Granted, this change will add more flexibility, however these students might still have at least two hours of practice after school, and still must fulfill these same requirements. Some think that this is not necessary, while others may say that PE classes are still beneficial to those students who do play sports.
With this argument comes the fate of the jobs of our P.E teachers. In compromise, if student-athletes who partake in at least two high school sports were only required to take a P.E. class freshman and sophomore year, P.E. teachers will still have plenty of kids to keep active, and athletes will have more flexibility during the arguable two hardest years of high school. With this change, two-sport student-athletes could have a study hall in replacement of P.E. class during the most important junior year, and then really focus on the college process during their senior year.
The harsh reality is, the 7-hour day that the average student undergoes, will ultimately turn into at least a 9-hour day for a student-athlete. It is only questionable if students truly have enough time to not just finish their work, but finish their work well. So, if you break it down, this means student-athletes are spending 45 hours a week not at home, with at least 35 hours of school and 10 hours of practice. This time does not include the anticipated 1 to 3 hours of homework the average high school student collects daily. Not to mention the travel time to get to and from away games.
The reality is, a student-athlete never takes a play off. Whether it is taking a test or presenting a project in the classroom, to running a play or sprinting down the field, it seems only necessary for these students to be able to have that healthy free time to simply take a breather. At the end of the day, student-athletes manage to make it work, however it can be put into question if having a P.E. class is truly necessary for these athletes, especially with the time spent in both athletics and  academics.

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