Physical education is unnecessary for varsity athletes

Eli Hartman-Seeskin, Sports Columnist

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All students at ETHS are required to take Physical Education all four years of school, but varsity athletes should not have to participate in PE on top of daily two-hour practices.

Athletes have not always been required to take PE while in season. As recently as 10 years ago, varsity athletes could skip Physical Education to attend an athletic study hall. However, according to basketball coach and PE teacher Mike Ellis, the study hall became time for athletes to waste a period on their phones rather than a chance to get some extra work done.

Despite the failure of the athletic study hall, the current system needs to be changed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois School Code grants Physical Education exemptions to Juniors and Seniors who need the period to complete a graduation requirement or for those competing in interscholastic sports. Unfortunately, schools are not required to grant this exemption.

Student athletes choose to take on a physical burden, block out most of their daily schedule and risk injuries to compete in the sports they love.

Besides the argument that the previous system of the athletic study hall was ineffective, the biggest argument for requiring athletes to take PE seems to be one of equity. If one student has to take PE all four years, so should every other. Some argue that it would not be fair for some students to be required to take PE every semester of every year, but not others.

This argument falls apart when you realize that fair means everyone gets what they need, not that everyone gets the same thing. Dedicated athletes do not need PE classes to show their appreciation of physical activity– they prove it every day.

In my mind, the solution is simple. Instead of giving away an extra period only to athletes or forcing everyone to take standard Physical Education classes, create a practice waiver system. When completing course selection, student athletes going into their junior or senior year would check the sports they plan to compete in. Then, they would be assigned last period PE for the corresponding semester or for the whole year. While in season, athletes would start practice during ninth period, having their coach sign a waiver which athletes would turn into the PE office at the end of each week. This way, the PE Dept. could be assured that students were still exercising and practices could finish up to an hour earlier. This extra time would help athletes stay more on top of their school work, also reducing the need for academic study table and helping to keep more athletes eligible to play. Further, by significantly reducing the number of students taking PE classes each day, the workload on PE teachers would be reduced. Mike Ellis agreed with the potential benefits of such a system, saying it is a solution he would potentially support.