Opposing viewpoints: I run [Netflix] marathons–Stop trying to make me personally fit


Morgan White, Reporter, Photographer

According to common moans and groans, perhaps the bane of every student’s existence remains mandating physical education/health to graduate. Requiring the mandatory torture of already stressed high school teens and then grading said torture proves more of a waste of time than a potential boon of healthy kids. Personally, the concept of “graded exercise” always confused me. Exactly how can a teacher determine my level of fitness with a grade anyway?

During middle school, teachers suggested enrolling in a physical education course in high school to fulfill the graduation requirement. Upon signing up for aerobic fitness, I assumed early completion gave me an advantage. Fast forward, and I discovered after partially completing the course, that aerobics did not fulfill the personal fitness requirement. Cue a livid fourteen-year-old girl who wasted the first semester of her high school semester doing Tae Bo and jazzercise.

The education I received during Personal Fitness escapes me. I ran laps and did worksheets about drugs— regurgitated “education” I learned during middle and elementary school. I wasted 90 school days, or 2,160 hours, in Personal Fitness. In that time, I could have:

  1. Watched Bring It On 22 times
  2. Download the latest Apple update
  3. Watch Family Feud on repeat and learned more factoids than I would in class
  4. Sleep
  5. Gone shopping and actually enjoyed part of my day
  6. Watched Bring It On: Fight to the Finish 21 times
  7. Helped my Magnet friends with their ASR projects

While required physical education may work during elementary school (providing children with health knowledge and an outlet for energy), those benefits hardly translate over when involving high school students. I already know about the food pyramid and that I should consume three to four servings of vegetables per day. Requiring yet another round of pacer tests and worksheets about vitamins equates to re-teaching the alphabet every year: it’s redundant.

Especially during high school, requiring another class adds unnecessary stress.  Today’s educational climate places a significant amount of weight on standardized test performance, and even freshmen worry about SAT scores and college credit. While studies prove physical activity reduces stress, students worry about their grades rather than running and reducing their anxiety simply because Personal Fitness requires graded performance.

Should Personal Fitness/Health be a graduation requirement?

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And what a graded performance it becomes. My class ran the pacer test every week when I took personal fitness. Every time I ran back and forth in that gym, all the while developing a conditioned fear of beeps, I prayed that someone performed worse than me so that I could leave without embarrassing myself in front of my classmates who excel at the apparently important task of running back and forth in a gymnasium.

Personal Fitness as a graduation requirement takes away a valuable class slot for AP opportunities. The poor little bodies of North Cobb’s Magnet Program already struggle with simple things like conversing with other students about anything but their ASR projects, so how can we expect these gentle souls to assimilate into normal on-level classes like PE? Perhaps this was the reason the faculty saved their overachieving minds from possible speaking to on-level students and created an all Magnet freshman Personal Fitness class (while most North Cobb students are required to wait until at least junior or senior year—go figure).

Even already active students must fulfill the graduation requirement, although they participate in physical activity on a daily basis. These students consistently prove their knowledge of health and fitness through organized sports. Moreover, they already know how fitness habits translate into their personal lives. PE stops being a means to learn physical health, instead becoming a pow-wow between the athletic students and their coaches. Personal Fitness becomes redundant, especially when they just walked from the weight room.

For less athletic students like myself, competing with the aspiring Dwayne Johnson’s of North Cobb for simple volleyball hitting opportunities dampers my miniscule desire to perform well in physical fitness. Though the studies show that regular physical activity promotes a healthy lifestyle overall, I will never get the chance to experience that during designated school fitness time because Michael Jordan decided to disguise himself as an average-looking high school boy in neon basketball shorts.