Lauren Morse started her freshman year ahead of track in science, but was faced with a difficult decision. “I wanted to be able to take advanced academic classes, but in order to fit those I had to drop music and PE.” Now a senior, she is taking online PE on top of a difficult course load that includes several AP classes.
Most students, especially athletes, believe students should gain PE credit through sports.
“I know people who play varsity sports year round and train during the summer,” said Senior Kieran Edraney, a three-season athlete. “So that’s four years where they’re training almost every single day at a very competitive level.” Edraney said that varsity athletes take into account diet, stretching, and “all the different aspects of PE.”
On December 21, Edraney attended a Student Council meeting where he learned that sports as PE credit might finally be possible under proficiencies. “With check-ins and stuff, the PE teachers would be excited to have kids who are dedicated outside of the classroom.”
Edraney runs cross country and track year-round, and believes that he gets “all the different aspects of PE” through running.
But U-32 PE teacher and Varsity Football Coach Brian Divelbliss isn’t so enthusiastic.
Divelbliss, who is against gaining PE credit through sports, expressed three main areas of concern: coaches aren’t teachers, physical literacy, and exposure. The three points lay out a case for keeping the system we have.
1. Coaches Aren’t Teachers
For Divelbliss, a coach’s job and a teacher’s job are not interchangeable, and coaches don’t have the time or training to assess students as teachers do.
“It’s not part of what I do as a coach, and I don’t think it would be fair to have some people who don’t even have a teaching license do something they aren’t trained to do, or try to fill that in their coaching schedule.”
2. Physical Literacy
According to SHAPE America, physical literacy is defined as “the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”
“I couldn’t properly assess a student as a coach because I don’t really dwell on the knowledge piece so much, said Divelbliss. “We do talk in healthy terms and things like that, how to keep our athletes healthy and safe, but it’s more like how to tackle safely, how to keep your eyes up so you don’t break your neck.”
He explained that an individual sport does not provide the lifelong knowledge and healthy practices that students receive in PE and which create a physically literate person.
In a sport, Divelbliss says, “you’re usually surrounded by like-minded individuals. So, as a football coach, guys there are motivated to be there for football, there’s a common goal.”
“I think it’s nice to expose students to a population that is not invested as much or as little as they are,” he said. “Some people maybe take a class they just need to take to graduate, some people take it because they’re really into it, and some people take it because they’re not sure and want to discover things. You get to learn to work with people that don’t have the same goals as you have.”
In addition to exposing them to new people, Divelbliss believes PE plays an important role in exposing students to activities or environments they may not have liked or encountered before.
“It’s kind of a natural human response to do things you’re comfortable doing,” Divelbliss said. “So we ask students sometimes to get out of their comfort zone and maybe learn something new.”
Though many students, including Edraney, see a future where sports count as PE credits, the department is not ready to move in that direction.
“As we go through the process of proficiencies, we are looking at how we can adapt more life-long skills into our programs,” Divelbliss said. What that looks like when implemented remains to be seen.