Student athletes should not be required to take gym class

A long-time debate in the world of high school athletics is the question of whether or not student athletes should have to take gym as a required credit. While it’s difficult to decide what should count as a sport that replaces gym class, this element can be fixed easily and efficiently with certain regulations.

As a three-season student athlete, I’m the first to say handling sports and academics is hard, and gets increasingly more difficult as the school year progresses. Arriving home after a long practice, eating dinner, and then getting to homework means staying up until the early hours of the morning most “nights”, which can take a huge toll on athletes health-wise both on and off the field.

A popular suggestion by people who support taking gym away from athletes is that the gym class period should be replaced with a study hall. There are more advantages to having a a study hall compared to the disadvantages, as it gives athletes the opportunity to complete homework they didn’t have time for the night before. However, this has created disagreement among students who don’t play sports, or those who play sports not sponsored by their school.

Those who oppose having athletes take a study hall instead of gym say that it’s not only unfair to other non-athletes, but it is hard to decide which sports count for exemption of gym class. For example, some students play club sports but choose to not participate in school athletic programs. If the school were to limit the amount of athletes exempt from gym, would club sports be counted the same as school sports in determining is excused from class? Or would only school athletes get out of gym? This would cause controversy among students and administrators, as well as coaches and parents.

In addition to the controversy regarding what athletes would get out of gym, the school would also have to look at what sport and how many sports each athlete plays. If an athlete played one winter sport, and only played that sport, would they be allowed out of gym for the whole year? This would open the door for student athletes to potentially abuse the study hall period privilege they get for being an athlete.

Junior Brenn Hardaway is a rock climber outside of school, and says the rule regarding gym class and athletes being exempt from it might be unfair. However, Hardaway noted that a popular way to decipher outside sports as being exempt from gym class is having the coach sign a form, which would get the athlete waved from gym class.

The best of both worlds would mean the student-athletes from club sports and school sponsored athletics would be allowed to be exempt from gym with a waiver signed by their coach, but doing this could still arouse controversy among athletes and non-athletes.

The everlasting debate over student athletes taking gym won’t be put to an end soon. However, with the increasingly difficult amount of schoolwork and studying, it would be more beneficial to athletes to have a study hall period rather than a gym class period during the school day. Regardless of how many sports a student participates in, both in and out of school, a study hall class would prove more beneficial than not.