Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gym Class: What's the Point?

There are two kinds of people in this world- the kind who like gym and the kind who don't. The athletic people and the rest of us. On both of these, I happen to be on the latter side. I'm a nerd who would rather have her head in a book than in the game.

I have received another request from an anonymous reviewer for a post so, having no other ideas, I figured I'd go ahead and give my two cents on the subject. While I already wrote about my own experiences here, I figured another entry wouldn't hurt. Is gym class really beneficial? Should it be mandatory? Should it receive some of the same cuts as the arts classes in light of our troubled economy?

Despite what many might argue, gym class has absolutely no purpose to the average person. Its sole purpose is to humiliate the weak and to subject us through torture. If not, then it obviously does nothing more. It is also a time where stupid asshole boys seem to find an excuse to goof off even more than they already do.

Some might argue that it provides exercise to those who don't exercise at home. My response? Bullshit. As a nonathletic person, I can tell you that I will not exercise if I don't want to (and have thought up a variety of different things to avoid it). Sometimes, I won't even get any exercise if I do want to. I do absolutely nothing in gym class the vast majority of the time, and I have done nothing in gym class since gym class started. I still get an A most of the time, unless I forget to come in with clothes once or twice (and don't feel like making it up). While the health benefits of gym might be true in theory, the reality is that gym class only seems to kill brain cells in my mind while I sweat buckets outside. If anything, gym actually has a negative effect on my health because it sets me up for dehydration and sometimes even hypothermia in the winter (and to possibly get hit by a volleyball or hit someone else with one).

I can think of a million different things that I could have done during all of the wasted hours I have spent in gym. I could have caught up on sleep or worked on my homework or even read a decent book. All of these would have been much better alternatives than sitting around and waiting to get hit. I would have much rather have spent my time in detention staring at the wall, because at least then I would have been guaranteed to have been in a nice, air-conditioned room instead of either freezing my ass off or melting into a big pile of Tori.

Now, where does the humiliating aspect come in doing nothing in gym class? The embarrassing times happen during all of those times I do have to do something in gym class. Usually, this won't involve any physical activity that will truly force me to do anything. I'll just have to hit a ball or kick something or run walk away from something to get to the other side. This is where the humiliation comes in and even the actual physical pain (when I don't do this correctly or someone else doesn't). Usually, I'll hit it so far off base that other kids will snicker or I'll have to deal with people yelling at me for not being good enough athletically or I'll be stuck having to chase after the other kids. It's especially humiliating during the Physical Fitness Test (the 1% of the time I do have to do something), when I usually come in last or get the lowest score because I'm so bad unless I happen to cheat. This doesn't even leave out those times before and after gym class in the locker rooms; while this isn't embarrassing to me, I do recognize that it is for plenty of other people and it also happens to be a pain in the ass. Even if any kid like me did experience any benefit from this, for this reason I think it would be cruel to subject us to this.

Since it accomplishes nothing for us nonathletic people, I believe that gym class should not be mandatory. However, I don't believe that it should be eliminated entirely. Many of those who do happen to be athletic need the gym/ sports program, so it would be selfish of me to say that it should be cut entirely. I do think that it should be offered as an elective but as an elective only. At no point in school should any student be forced to take gym.

Now, should gym classes experience cuts? Absolutely. The gym and sports programs need to undergo the same amount of cuts as arts programs do. After all, what makes my programs any more important than that athletic kid's? At least mine will serve some purpose when I'm fat and old, while theirs will not.

Gym and sports need to take just as many cuts as any other elective. The arts programs shouldn't have to take the full brunt of a shitty economy. I'm proud to say that my school district has actually cut some athletic programs including the five o'clock buses the athletes use and the freshman sports teams (freshman can still join the other teams if they make it, of course). However, other schools are often not so lucky. While arts programs are slashed, many sports programs only receive a boost. Obviously, this is wrong.

Despite the fact that my school district recognizes the importance of the arts, I've still experienced arts discrimination. Last year, the camp I wanted to go to wasn't being run because of renovations on the campus. The sports camp still was.

In an ideal world, both types of people would be honored. That isn't always the case. For this reason gym class is cruel and unnecessary and no one should be forced into it.


  1. Being a person from your school who was on a sports team as well as part of the musical program you should really check your facts about how Sport teams get 'more money than the arts' because they really don't. For the sport teams we get nothing handed to us. For most of the sport teams you have to bring your own equipment, either raise money or pay for expenses yourself, and the only thing the school really gives us are our uniforms which are so old they've lost their original color from the sun.

  2. I must say I agree with you. I'm anything but athletically inclined, and having reached the point in my life when I would wish to prepare for college, I am faced with the challenge of somehow trying to squeeze my gym classes into my already-too-tight-for-electives schedule of AP classes. Even if finagling gym into my schedule were an easy feat, I have multiple reasons to not be inclined towards it. To begin with, as I already stated, I am terrible at pretty much all physical activity (the one sport I did do, gymnastics, was never done in gym class). I also have knee problems (thanks gymnastics) and excercise-induced asthma. Second, gym serves absolutely no purpose in my life. I will never need to be able to do 20 pushups or know the rules of any sports game as an astrophysicist. Some would argue that there is 'academic' content in gym class, however, it has been dumbed down so much that I can sit in class, stare at the ceiling, doing nothing, and still ace the test that is notes-allowed without using my notes. If any of the activities we are forced to do in gym class were supposed to instill an affinity for an active lifestyle in me, they certainly failed. I suppose my biggest contention with gym class however is how it is graded. It's supposed to be graded on the basis of effort, however 'effort' is loosely defined. 'Effort' always ends up being how 'in the game' or how competitive you are. Attempting to hit the ball when it strays in your direction simply isn't enough. To get the A, it would seem that one must shove their own teammates out of the way to be the first to hit the ball. I am naturally abhorrant of competition, and thus, usually do quite poorly when it comes to this aspect of the game. I simply cannot get excited and competitive to the point of acting like an frenzied ape concerning something I find no interest or value in. I don't even get competitive doing things I like, such as participating on the speech team. I can honestly say that there is nothing that the gym teachers could do to motivate me to lead a more active lifestyle, considering I value academic endeavours and my persuit of such endeavours leaves me little time for anything else. I am perfectly aware of how unhealthy that is, but that changes nothing if I can't see the value in knowing how to play football over knowing calculus. At this point, gym class is simply an errant mark on my report card that lowers my GPA, simply because I'm not excited to do something I strongly dislike.