Varsity sports should count towards a PE credit

in Opinion by
The varsity football team conditions together in preparation for the upcoming season as part of daily three-hour training, far surpassing that of a PE class over the semester. (Photo/Ethan Masel)

Every year, there are handfuls of newly crowned senior students who have yet to attain their PE credit, which is required to graduate. This lack of credit typically stems from some students’ tendency to hold off on receiving their PE credit until their final year of high school, usually in an effort to fill their previous years’ schedules with honors-credit-level courses. Although the obvious solution (and currently only solution) to this problem is to simply sign up for a PE class during one of their final two semesters of high school, there should be another path some students can take: receiving a PE credit for playing on a varsity sports team.

If varsity sports were to count for a PE credit, first of all, student-athletes who used to be in need of signing up for PE in senior year would be able to fill their schedule with other academic or elective courses. Not only could this lead to a more well-rounded schedule for student-athletes, but it could also free up space in the PE classes for other non-athletically involved individuals who are in need of the credit. 

“I spend a lot of time after school playing varsity sports,” varsity soccer player junior Kira Reinhartz said. “This leaves me little time to catch up on homework for my classes, so if I were able to use my varsity sport as a PE credit, I could use an independent during PE class to catch up on work.”

There’s no doubt that varsity sports require the same level of, if not more, physical movement than that of a PE course; practices and workouts for varsity sports can last for hours after school while a PE class ends in just under an hour. However, though this may be true, there are some that have concerns regarding how students would go about proving their active participation in their respective sports. This issue could be solved, though, through varsity coaches keeping an attendance of their team and establishing a limit to the amount of absences per student. If a student were to surpass this limit, they could be in jeopardy of losing their credit. This limitation would likely result in not only more participation in the varsity sports team (helping the betterment of the team) but also provide proof of active membership that could enable the student-athletes to receive their points.

“I would say that the amount of work I put in my sport is the same if not more than PE,” varsity soccer player junior Kira Reinhartz said. “We meet everyday for an hour and a half, which is twice the amount of time they meet for PE everyday.”

Evidently, if student-athletes were able to count their sport as a PE credit, many students would be able to benefit as a whole, both in their schoolwork and their sport.

“I’ve put so much time and effort into swimming,” varsity swimmer junior Daniel Watson said. “Not only is it physically taxing, but it also takes up a lot of time. My teammates and I have to use our energy on our sport, but we’re still required to take a PE class. Without being required to take a PE credit, not only would I be able to save some energy for swimming but I would also be able to take the classes I want to take.”

As the issue continues to remain one that the administration discusses, it’s important to note what exactly has withheld participation in varsity sports from counting as a PE credit. 

“It is actually something we were talking about considering, but the pandemic has sidelined any discussions,” Mrs. Blum said. “Our biggest concerns were making sure we had a system to ensure that we were tracking participation properly since so many of our coaches don’t work for school. It is a big project someone would have to manage. Athletics does not really want to take it on, and I don’t blame them. There has to be specific guidelines and forms signed that people understand what is expected. This has to be done across both campuses. We also have to see what the impact would be on our PE program and the ability to keep offering classes. It is a bigger project to take on than you would imagine, and I am not sure it is worth it as I don’t think requiring one semester of PE over four years is such a burden. I think our PE program does a great job of teaching the importance not only of physical fitness but also of healthy eating habits.”

With discussions tabled for now, administration remains unsure whether or not they will venture down the path of granting PE credit to varsity athletes; but the benefits of doing so may prove that path to be one worth exploring. 

“I think we will talk about this again after we get through the current situation,” Mrs. Blum said. “As you can imagine, all our administrator meetings are focused right now on getting back to school safely.”

Sammy Rosenthal is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation Fla. and is entering his third year writing for the newsmagazine; his first year as the publication’s Sports Editor. Sammy takes pride in being a die-hard Miami Heat and Dolphins fan as well as dedicating his Sunday to watching football.

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