How Much P. E. Do Athletes Need?
Nathan Reutiman ’15
Few SI students completely understand our P.E. Waiver. After a great deal of digging and research, I am honestly perplexed at what I have learned. A standard answer was: “Can you tell me what it is before I answer?” What started as a lack of knowledge quickly turned to confusion and frustration. Ignorance was bliss.
Let me explain: SI requires two semesters of PE: one unisex P.E. class in the freshman year, and one elective, such as fitness, weightlifting, or dance, to be taken in the sophomore or senior year. The second semester can only be waived if a student plays three seasons in two sports past the freshman level, one of which must be at the varsity level.
Even though most of us would agree that Fitness and Health Education component is essential, the second semester seems superfluous for our athletes. Our rival schools are not so rigid. For example Bellarmine does not have a P.E. requirement, and Sacred Heart gives P.E. credit for school or outside club sports. Other high schools offer a waiver to student athletes after fitness tests to make their team, assuming they are getting exercise just by nature of their participation.
On the other hand, our requirement for “two different sports” excludes single-sport athletes. How many student athletes does such a simple requirement affect?
There are 1,469 students at SI. According to the About SI Athletics page, “70% of students will participate in athletics” and “400 will play two sports.” With some simple arithmetic, SI has 630 single sport athletes, and these 630 SI student athletes will not be exempted from a P.E. elective.
In many cases, these are athletes who have devoted themselves to and excelled at a sport for all four years; most play their sport year round in offseason training or training with outside clubs. For example, how could one argue that a crew team member is unfit?
Consider a single sport athlete who, as a varsity player, is required to lift before school three times a week. This athlete will face early mornings and grueling physical activity, but will never receive P.E. credit. Ironically, a student enrolled in a weight lifting class does the same exact lifting routine and receives P.E. credit.
But this isn’t the only issue. With only a limited number of electives available in a student’s schedule, the second semester of the P.E. requirement inhibits our opportunity to expand into different areas of interest. As Joseph Ladd ’15, a three year varsity golfer, expressed, “I’m a little upset that I can’t take architecture. It (P.E.) takes up a year of a class that I could really benefit from, especially when figuring out interests for future college courses.” Joe sums up the issue 630 athletes have to struggle with.
There is one more element to consider. SI’s curriculum has dramatically changed in the last year in any number of positive ways. Last year, SI introduced the mandatory Wellness seminar: a yearlong sophomore course that covers a vast range of health education topics, similar to the health education requirements at many others schools such as Lick-Wilmerding. With the addition of the Wellness course, is it possible that SI’s second semester of the P.E. requirement--intended to instill life fitness and health awareness--has become redundant?
SI should reconsider the requirements to obtain a P.E. waiver. Seniors should be able to choose more preferable, beneficial electives. A re-evaluation of thve P.E. requirement would prove a liberating step in SI’s continued path towards achieving and maintaining academic excellence.
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