Mandatory Physical Education I

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Current high school students are becoming fatter, slower, and less motivated than past students. Many of these young people would prefer to be sitting passively in front of the television rather than to do something physically active. Most high school students believe they do not have sufficient time, opportunity or guidance to participate in physical activities. The ideal place in which students would be able to find adequate time, opportunity and guidance are in the high schools themselves. Politicians and educators responsible for the mandatory physical education program at the junior high school levels (grades eight to ten) should be applauded for this, but frowned upon for not enforcing it on senior high school students (grades 11 and 12). Physical Education is defined as "the process of education that develops the human body, specifically fitness and movement skills" (Baker, 1990, p. 14). This teaches students valuable skills that would be applicable to life, present and future. Students also learn how to work and interact with others to pursue goals in a way which academic subjects, such as mathematics and science, may not provide. Physical Education should be a requirement for all British Columbia high school students because it provides physical skills necessary for effective social functioning, offers educational value and teaches healthy habits reducing health risks.

Opposition of mandatory Physical Education in high schools believe that if a student has not developed a desire for voluntary physical exercise by the time he or she reaches high school , he or she may not ever (Eberhardt). It is true that individuals should not be forced into something they don't want to participate in, but if these students don't get any exercise outside of school, where will they receive an appropriate amount of fitness? Paul Eberhardt, athletic director, intramural director and head coach of the McNair Marlins basketball team in Richmond, B.C., believes "that students don't care about participating in P.E. anymore and we have to educate students on the benefits of Physical Education". In the 1994-1995 school year there were 1,133 students enrolled at McNair High School but there were only four P.E. classes available, which meant approximately 120 students attended in these classes. The remaining 1013 grade eleven and twelve students had no Physical Education at all. This is an astonishing figure. "Many students participate in sports and recreation activities outside of school, but most of them get hardly any exercise at all. There needs to be a place where students can get some sort of exercise and physical activity" (Eberhardt). School is the ideal place to implement such physical activities because most have the proper facilities and equipment necessary to accommodate the students and the activities involved. If P.E. is not made a mandatory subject then many students will not gain the benefits a decent program can provide.

The same opponents who are opposed to Physical Education being compulsory in high schools believe that a well-equipped and well-organized intramural program made available to students it would replace the need to have P.E. in schools. The problem with the lack of students participating is, again, apparent. McNair's athletic department offered basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, and floor hockey, but all, with the exception of basketball, had to be cancelled because of the lack of participants. Eventually basketball also had to be cancelled as players stopped attending during the season. The question that arises then is, were these sports offered as full-credit courses? The answer is no. It would seem that the government would rather invest their funds on other areas and emphasize the importance of academic subjects. Academics are vital but so is physical education, a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind. Physical Education must become mandatory!

P.E. provides physical activity skills that...
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