Recently, there has been talk that MHS might be changing its athletic option policies next year. Athletic option allows juniors and seniors to opt out of taking gym if they participate in a school sport on the varsity level. In order to receive athletic option, they must go to 80% of games/ meets and practices. This system has been great for upperclassmen who are juggling sports, school, and other extracurricular activities. However, for freshmen and sophomores who are varsity athletes, this system has been far from accommodating. These students, who are doing the same workouts as juniors and seniors, are still required to take P.E. Many athletes, angered with this policy, have expressed their concerns to school administrators. In the past, pleas to allow freshmen and sophomores to have athletic option were rejected. However, there has recently been discussions for that policy to change. Whether or not this rumor is true, there are many MHS students who want athletic option for freshmen and sophomores who qualify.
Freshman Sarah Bennett was on varsity lacrosse this spring; she explains, “I think that many students could benefit from athletic option if given the opportunity. Students who are playing sports at the varsity level are putting in just as much time towards the sport as upperclassmen, but are expected to fully participate in P.E. as well.” Freshman Leah Holmes was also on varsity lacrosse. When asked about her schedule, she says, “My schedule is pretty full outside of school. Since I am in PACE there are often many things we need to do outside of school for that. Also, I usually play lacrosse every day, have guitar lessons and still have homework to do and it seems like I never have any time to relax.” Similarly, Bennett says that she ends up staying up as late as 12:30 a.m. doing homework or studying. When she has multiple tests and a lot of work in one week, she explained, “It is hard to give it your all at school and on the field.”
Students on sports teams participate in daily rigorous practices. Bennett said that she has to work really hard to keep up with the other girls on the field. She remarked that, “If I have had gym earlier that day, I may already be a little tired. Sometimes it is hard to focus in practice if my mind is off wondering how I will balance all my work.” She finds it unfair that just because she is younger, she is not getting extra time during the day to do her school work.
When asked if gym is beneficial, Bennett explained, “Overall, I don’t learn a lot and I feel like I could be dedicating that time to getting work done. Gym is important for kids who don’t get another opportunity to exercise in the day, but between my school teams and club teams, I’m getting about 14-15 hours of exercise a week.” Physical education is important. It is the time where students learn fitness, collaboration and goal-setting skills. However, athletes are already learning these skills from the experience of being on a sports team.
The rumors about athletic option changing have been circling, but there is no evidence that they are actually true, though several MHS students are pushing for the changes. Ultimately, for freshmen and sophomore athletes who want athletic option, it’s not that they dislike P.E. Rather, they dislike feeling so short on time to do their school work. It would be the right move for MHS administrators to give overburdened freshman and sophomore varsity athletes the same additional free period as their peers. Only then would they be able to meet with teachers and finish their homework like other students can.
By Sophia Glinski