Gym class ... the Last Frontier
I have the terrible habit of sleeping with the T.V. on.
It's okay if the last station is ESPN2. “Mike and Mike in the Morning” is not bad to wake up to. Many times however, it's infomercials. A couple of mornings ago I woke up tired, the station was selling exercise equipment all night. I got a subliminal workout I didn't want. Chuck Norris' “Total Gym,” caused me to wake up with both arms pulling down at my sides.
It made me think how many billion dollars adults spend on exercise and keeping in shape. How many health clubs are open across the country? How many products are made to workout for the home? It is mind boggling if you think about it. Then it hit me — what do we do for our kids?
I grew up in an era when P.E. or gym class was a staple in daily education. I don't count kindergarten, because all I can remember is nap time on the floor and eating cookies or glue. Physical education was a class you took every single day of your school life until you graduated from high school.
Everybody ran in elementary school. Even though our fourth grade teacher taught everything, I can still hear “keep running and keep outside the lines. No cheating.” Everybody had to do jumping jacks, squat thrusts, alternate toe touches, sit ups and push ups. The girls could do their push ups on their knees.
Once you were done with exercise, the boys played the sport of the season. The girls were great jump rope and hop-scotch artists all year.
Junior high meant a real P.E. teacher and a P.E. uniform everyday. “No excuses. Everybody in your uniform and your spot in five minutes” was a daily call. I now feel sorry for my junior high teachers. Twenty little boys that smelled like billy goats had to be tough to teach after P.E.
Mandatory dress, mandatory shower, mandatory workout categorized high school P.E. No workout, fail P.E. and get in trouble. How cruel they were. We had to take P.E. whether you liked it or not.
That was long ago. Today the first things school districts cut or reduce are P.E., art and music. I guess a “healthy body makes a healthy mind” is kind of a modern day Aesop fable. I guess kids get strong and smarter by playing on a computer.
Can you believe the Federal government tells our kids what to eat at lunch time and even subsidizes it, but they wont make kids work out an hour a day at school? I think it's a secret conspiracy to have kids and young adults need Obamacare.
I've researched and read the reason school districts cut or reduce P.E.is because kids need more time for academics. I guess that means kids from generations past didn't get enough learning. I was feeling deprived until I saw that the highest national SAT scores occurred between 1967 and 1973. I'm sure some academician can give me five reasons why I'm wrong. I'm sure I had too much P.E. to figure it out.
I feel sorry for kids today. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The solution to the problem is very simple. If you can't have kids take physical education, have subliminal infomercials on exercise pumped into the classroom so kids and learn and work out at the same time.
John Blabe is the former athletic director and football coach at Antelope Union High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.