News Viewpoints

Physical Education Exemption for All Varsity Athletes

At Blind Brook, there is a current policy regarding the participation of seniors in physical education classes. Essentially, in the past, it has been the case that seniors who currently participate and have participated in a varsity sport would be exempt from their physical education class during the season or seasons of varsity sports in which they participate. This policy is quite logical as individuals who have made such a tremendous commitment to their sport could use the time to catch up on work that could have been done after school for most students, while these athletes were likely playing their sport. Additionally, it could be the case that an athlete comes to school sore from their sport, and participating in physical education is most certainly not beneficial in this circumstance. However, there has been a lingering confusion for many as to why only seniors earn this privilege, while there are many other non-senior varsity athletes.

Naturally, this seems quite logical, as all varsity athletes ideally partake in the same intensity of a particular sport and partake in an equal time commitment. While it is true that seniors may have a challenging course load in comparison to potential underclassmen varsity athletes, juniors face a similar course load, and all students regardless of age should be given the ability to complete their schoolwork to the best of their ability. It seems as though giving student varsity athletes this extra time to do work during their sport’s season would be extremely beneficial if students were to use this privilege to their advantage. It must be the school’s priority to ensure that all students are given the ability to succeed to the greatest of their ability and making this minute change would be extremely helpful in doing so.

There has been a past concern that giving the privilege of a physical education exemption to all students or more students than solely seniors would incentivize students to join sports that they were not previously interested in. While this is a valid concern, this potential concern may be more of a benefit to this new situation. In other words, if this potential change were to incentivize students to participate in a new sport, this would allow students to meet more people outside of their grades, and clearly this is beneficial to students for many reasons. Students opening themselves up to something they have never tried before, even if it is as simple as trying a new sport could have a larger positive effect than anticipated.

With this potential change comes a fear that physical education classes would be too small or nonexistent. First off, it seems as though physical education classes are currently much too large being that my own class consists of nearly forty students. Additionally, the educators for these classes have said that the size was extremely large which is a lot to deal with of course. Classes would still likely fit into schedules, because it is relatively rare for a student to play a varsity sport all three seasons of the school year, meaning that at all times while the actual students would vary, there would constantly be students in physical education classes. Furthermore, at this time freshman physical education classes are separated from those of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. However, combining freshman classes with the already combined physical education classes would allow for more scheduling flexibility and again ensure that classes are adequately sized.

Being that I am not informed of all scheduling logistics that must be taken into account when making a decision such as this one I do understand that the issue may be more complex than it seems at first glance. While saying that, I do strongly feel as though a decision such as this one should be again brought to a discussion as it could have a multitude of positive effects on our school community. Essentially, the question should always be what is the best decision for students to succeed while keeping educators and the district as a whole happy with current circumstances. While it is most certainly easier said than done, discussing physical education exception for all varsity athletes would be a good place to start.