Gym exemptions necessary for balancing student schedules

Dana Sim, columnist

Physical education waivers have always been a topic of discussion. To a junior varsity athlete or a travel soccer player, they seem unfair. Though they might perform as well as varsity players or exercise two or three times as much as in gym, they don’t get physical education waivers.

According to the GBS handbook, a physical education waiver can only be given to juniors and seniors in an athletic program, marching band or those needing room for a class required in order to be accepted into a university or for a graduation requirement.

Several students complain that these policies are too strict. For example, varsity athletes are eligible for exemption, but junior varsity athletes are not. Though they might endure the same strenuous workouts and exercises as varsity players, they don’t get the exemptions.

And what if a student is training to run a marathon or takes part in an outside-school athletic program? They easily fit the “health” standards, so they must be viable for an exemption as well, but they cannot receive an exemption.

However, the physical education waiver policies do not need to change.

Those that do get exemptions actually NEED the exemptions. Take marching band students that get exemptions. Marching band takes up entire afternoons and sometimes weekends. To have an extra SRT is almost mandatory for these students.

A large reason varsity athletes receive exemptions is to have time to work on schoolwork. Their afternoons and weekends are commonly taken up by practices and games. At times, games and meets can even last from six to nine hours. The extra SRT is there to provide time when they otherwise would not have it.

But students should not misuse their exemptions.

Students who receive exemptions should not use their extra SRT to take another class. To use an exemption to take a “fun” class in place of gym does not make much sense. An exemption is for keeping up on academic courses while participating in extracurricular activities, not to get out of gym.

Also, by receiving an exemption, a student is rendering a gym teacher’s ability to teach effective. In other words, you’re taking away what a teacher loves to do: teach. And not all athletes get exempt, but there are ways to accommodate them.

For one, athletes can use their gym classes to their advantages. A cross-country runner normally does plenty of cardio but not enough weights, so enrolling in a weights class can benefit the runner’s upper-body strength.