Unrealistic P.E. standards promote disengagement among students

Carolina Rodriguez, columnist

It’s the day of the mile.

Excitement and nerves are buzzing through the air, and students have already divided into two groups. One by one, they run by their teachers, anxiously awaiting their mile time. After an excruciating journey on the track, the patter of tennis shoes dies down and the one dreaded question can be heard from peer to peer: “What did you get?”. 

It’s through things such as the mile that P.E. sets unrealistic standards for students. By promoting unhealthy competition and making us stick to the same routine, it’s no wonder why students like us experience a wave of anxiety with the mere thought of going to gym class.

Sitting here and complaining about the P.E. standards may make me seem unappreciative or pessimistic about the wrong things, but I can’t deny that P.E is a great way for us to explore new ways to be active. This becomes a problem when some of us are forced to do the same regimen of fitness every day.

For instance, underclassmen don’t have the wide variety of electives to choose from that upperclassmen do. Having been a freshman and currently a sophomore, the repetitive P.E class schedule has made me dread the class.  Although P.E does rotate in units like dance, tennis, and basketball, it does not give students a choice as to what they want to do throughout the school year, thus resulting in less motivation for students to stay active. 

Giving underclassmen, in particular,  a variety of electives to choose from is incredibly beneficial. If students enjoy the activities they engage in during P.E, they are most likely going to continue that exercise outside of class. 

Even more importantly,  high school is the most important time for teens to develop healthy habits such as exercising because of all the stressors we face. Not only is an active lifestyle good for our physical health, but it can do wonders for our emotional well being. 

Thus, giving all students the option to choose from a list of P.E electives would work great for us in the long run.  Regardless of grade level, it would be incredibly beneficial for underclassmen to get to choose their P.E electives, for it would introduce students to a fun way of staying active and enjoying the class. Not to mention, it would further benefit our studies, allowing us to manage future stress more effectively.

Aside from the routine of P.E being pushed upon students, unhealthy competition is also enforced. Since elementary, I’ve noticed how the environment in a P.E class can make students prone to unrealistic physical standards.  

What many fail to recognize is that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. The healthier of the two is when you’re bettering yourself to be the best version you can be; it’s when one starts setting reachable goals that can help them grow for their own benefit, not anyone else. An example would be going to the gym and making fitness goals that you can reach and improve on in the future.

On the other hand, unhealthy competition is when someone has the dire need to compare themselves to others. They have the need to always win and are more focused on bettering themselves in other’s eyes, not improving themselves in their own eyes. For example, sometimes during sports scrimmages in P.E, there are kids that take it too seriously. The competitive atmosphere makes them say not so nice things, and coming from experience, words can hurt. This is debunking the exact teamwork we should be learning in class, because of competitive ideas such as these. P.E should instead encourage team building activities rather than comparing its students on how fast they can run a mile. 

All in all, P.E is designed to motivate us to get active and destress, yet we cannot benefit from this class if competition and the lack of motivation keep us from receiving its true benefits. Unrealistic standards in P.E are there, but they shouldn’t affect you as a person. A fitness score doesn’t determine who you are; a mile time isn’t going to ruin your high school career.

 In the end, these scores aren’t going to matter, so there’s no point in competing. 

Athletics have never been my forte, but I know that my nine-minute mile time doesn’t define who I am.