Student-athletes sentenced to three years of gym class


Staples sophomores (from left) Layla Bloomingdale, Karina Murray and Chloe Murray warm-up for their volleyball practice that is over two hours every day. After their workout, they must go home to do hours of homework.

Twenty-four hours: to learn, practice, eat, sleep. It’s not enough time. After student-athletes’ intense practice or games, they race the clock to finish the mountain of homework waiting for them, cutting into their crucial time to sleep. To solve this issue, student-athletes should not be obligated to take PE.
In order to graduate Staples High School, it is required for every student to participate in at least three years of physical education. This takes up one-eighth of their schedule and meets three to four times a week. According to The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Youth can achieve substantial health benefits by doing moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity for periods of time that add up to 60 minutes or more each day.” Most adolescents who participate in extracurricular sports teams attend multiple hours of sports practice every day, meeting that requirement, and should not be forced to take gym.
The purpose of gym class is to keep children physically active and healthy; however, athletes are already working out after school. Many student-athletes would rather use their gym period as an opportunity to take other classes they are interested in.
“I feel that it’s unnecessary to take gym because I’m already spending time exercising outside of school,” Hannah Ratcliffe ’22 said. “Why should I have to do it inside when I could be learning about other things I want to learn about?”
Additionally, many athletes struggle to finish their homework in the limited time they have after school and still get a good night’s sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best […] one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.”
Having an additional free period instead of gym would benefit their health because they would have time to work on their homework, leading to them having at least eight hours of sleep a night.
“I could use that period to study rather than just do exercise that I’ll be getting later in the day,” Staples girls’ swim and dive team captain Annie Bowens ’20 said.
Furthermore, athletes may become exhausted after gym class, causing them to have a lack of energy during their after school games.
“I get tired and it just makes no sense because I have volleyball practice after, so it’s just a waste of my time [to take gym class],” Grace Cauley ’23 said.
Many private schools in Connecticut like Hopkins School and Greens Farms Academy exempt student-athletes from participating in gym, and most kids at Staples believe that this should be enforced in public schools as well.
“My time after school is taken up by cross-country, Molly Liles ’22 said, “so I could use the time in school to do my homework that I could have been doing at home.”