Progress in Physical Education

Hey! It took me a while, but I found a headline I liked today:

New P.E.: More fitness, less sports – Schools emphasize preparing for lifetime of physical activity

Ahhhh…

P.E., Gym, Phys-ed, Physical Education, Sweat Shop, Geek Hell, the Nerd Torture Chamber, the Doctor Note Dungeon; the place where we learned things like: it’s OK to shower with people of the same sex, you wouldn’t get your ass kicked as long as you were naked, which guys were early or late reaching puberty, that the coach lost a testicle to athlete’s foot, that girls aren’t necessarily picked last, and that it’s impossibly difficult to conceal an erection beneath sweatpants.

A.K.A., the 7,824th thing (give or take) I happen to be bitter about.

It didn’t piss me off too badly that P.E. was the one class in which the jocks would do well and then rub it in everyone else’s faces, because the rest of us knew that high school was going to end up being the high point in the jocks’ lives and, from there, it was all down hill. At 30 years old, they would be working on some assembly line by day, and coming home to a pregnant wife and house full of screaming kids; drinking a 12-pack each night while parked in front of the TV, watching the ball game, and reminiscing about their golden days as a high school athlete. (Which, in many cases, turned out to be true.)

What did piss me off were the people who failed. The same kids who did miserably in P.E. class were, often, the same kids who would go home, climb on a bicycle, skateboard, surfboard, snowboard or whatever, and perform athletic feats that a high school quarterback couldn’t achieve in his wildest dreams. The “nerds” in P.E. class weren’t necessarily wimps or even in poor physical shape. They just weren’t into team sports. Instead, they were into martial arts, dance, rodeo riding, ice skating or any of a million other physically demanding activities that were frowned upon by coaches who played favorites. These days, it’s nice to see the definition of P.E. being opened up, to provide more options — options that can appeal to more students.

Steps such as those discussed in the above-listed article do show progress, but they only get us part-way there. Because, really, when you get right down to it, nothing is more morally obscene in school athletics than cheerleading. If only we could
persuade more school districts to have a girls’ athletic program; a real program with women’s soccer, basketball, etc., and their own uniforms, facilities and equipment — instead of having their only athletic opportunity limited to cheerleading on the sidelines of boys’ sports. Then maybe, just maybe, we’d be on the road to some thoughtful physical education programs.

Get behind this idea and push for these changes in your local school district. Improving P.E. is worthy of upsetting some applecarts. Besides, if we could make just one modification to the public school system that would significantly reduce the number of future serial killers in this world, this would, most certainly, be it.

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