Should Varsity Athletes Be Required to Participate in Physical Education?

By Jesse Perlmutter

We are all busy. Clubs. Extracurriculars. Theater. Sports. The list goes on and on, and finally, at the end of a long grueling day, students are faced with hours upon hours of homework. We go to bed late, wake up early, and then repeat the cycle all over again. Time is the culprit in the extremely overbooked life of a student. Among the busiest of students are the student-athletes who have hours of practice every day and games that last until late at night. Therefore, any amount of free time these athletes can utilize to get work done is crucial.

New York State requires that every student take physical education. This raises the question: is it a good use of a varsity athlete’s time to participate in physical education when they could be using their extra time to focus on their studies? Varsity athletes receive rigorous workouts along with teamwork and communication skills, which would otherwise be taught in gym class, during their practices and games that occur after school. Across the nation, some public and private schools have lessened their demanding rules for athletes have to participate in gym class, and now allow for their students to opt out of PhysEd, attending a study hall instead. However, not everyone agrees with student-athletes not having to participate in gym class and believe that gym can be used as an active outlet for students to move around during the school day, giving them a break from their demanding classes.

Byram Hills varsity swimmer Chris Draper says, “I have friends from other schools who have frees for PhysEd because they are student-athletes. Personally, I think this is helpful because most athletes are spending multiple hours a day working out leaving little time to do homework. On the contrary, my friend’s PhysEd classes are primarily weightlifting, unlike the fun units we have at Byram Hills.”

Junior Brett Perlmutter, a new student and varsity swimmer, explains some of the benefits of not having to participate in gym class as a student-athlete. He says, “Being a student-athlete at my old school gave me much more flexibility in my schedule. Not only was I able to opt out of gym, but I was able to use that slot to study or pursue another academic interest.”

There are many opinions on this subject, but for now, the New York Board of Education has the final say. We would like to know what you think so be sure to share your thoughts by casting a vote in the attached poll!