Physical Education trumps Academics

Sydney Czyzon, Features Editor

In the state of Illinois, public schools are mandated to enforce four years of physical education during one’s high school career. In fact, Illinois was the first state to make daily P.E. classes required. Due to this constraint, many students are stripped of academic opportunities and must sacrifice their possible interests.

When searching for future colleges, there are seldom any schools that search for participation in gym classes when deciding which students to admit. Instead, universities look for challenging academic courses that show determination and represent career prospects. For the majority of students, gym is nowhere near as beneficial as taking another AP class, choosing a useful elective, or making up credits that were lost through a previous failure.

With recognition to the increasingly competitive society that has revolutionized education in recent years, students should be able to choose courses that are specific to their needs. For an individual who wishes to pursue a career as a therapist, they should be given the chance to partake in psychology, sociology, and child development, without the necessity of gym class.

Also, by attending any regular P.E. class at Joliet West, it can be plainly observed that many of the students do not contribute effort during activities. As an alternative, they rebelliously walk, stand around, talk with classmates, and complain. These students receive none of the benefits that gym class should entail and they ultimately make it less enjoyable for those who take the class seriously. Rather than being forced to stay there, those kids should not have to enroll in physical education.

In addition, gym can serve as a breeding ground for bullying and embarrassment. Junior Jaidah Blakney explained, “People who can’t perform physically at levels that other people can perform is a cause for low self-esteem. Gym should be offered as an elective rather than a required course so that people can comfortably exercise without having to feel like someone else is better than them.” If gym was an elective, students without serious fitness aspirations wouldn’t be put amongst students who desire to take the course.

Junior student Lauren Ferencik agreed with Blakney by stating, “No, it shouldn’t be required because it’s not enjoyable for everyone.” Her peer, Isabel Cervantes, somewhat approved by describing, “We should have gym but it should be our choice.” The most popular response seems to support the latter: gym class should be treated as an elective rather than a mandatory burden on teens who dislike the class or wish to further increase their academic courses.

For those who believe that gym is necessary, the consensus seems to be that gym is integral for the decrease of obesity in America. Sophomore Hannah Clement stated, “With the obesity problem in America, gym is important for students.” Similarly, junior Chris Beltran said, “It should be required because kids need to be active.” Also, high-schoolers may not have enough time to work-out after school. Junior Alvi Cortez pointed out, “It may be the only time kids get to exercise.”

On the website CreateDebate, one user commented on the issue by declaring, “It should be required so that students are at least informed of ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle whether they choose to do so or not.” On a similar site,, 57% of voters supported gym class while a close 43% said that the class should not be required. One supporter stated, “This generation has more overweight kids than any other generation. Schools with P.E. classes can promote life-long physically active habits.”

On the same debate forum, another participant combatted gym class by stating, “In high school students need to get ready for college. They need to prepare for all their classes and fill their resume. P.E. is a useless class that colleges do not count.” With this in mind, gym class is academically hurtful to students who are trying to get admitted into selective colleges. If schools insist on teaching juveniles healthy habits, gym class can be taken during elementary years instead of throughout one’s crucial high school career. Fitness should be the responsibility of the pupil rather than being the duty of an educational facility. Students should be given the opportunity to expand their knowledge by enrolling in a class other than physical education.

To close, mandatory P.E. classes cripple those who have college ambitions. If gym was transformed into an optional incentive, the advantageous benefits would undoubtedly increase the success that students obtain post-graduation. In years to come, hopefully education will become more of a priority in high schools nationwide, therefore allowing students to finally focus on more rigorous and relevant schedules.