Contract Physical Education standards unrealistic for athletes

Requirements for contract PE are too difficult to achieve, especially in comparison to the standards in PE


Nathan Walker

Rowing is one sport which does not meet the 15 hour per week requirement for contract PE despite vigorous levels of training.

How nice would it be to not take Physical Education (PE) class? Well, with the graduation requirement of two years of PE at Palo Alto High School, students are given the option of having contract PE where they can opt out of taking PE during the school week if they do sports or physical exercise outside of school. Unfortunately, in order to have contract PE, students must take at least 15 hours a week of a sport not offered at Paly and also fill out a packet requiring monthly schedules, evidence of fulfilling the requirements and approval from coaches or out of school teachers. Although contract PE is a great option, the requirements are unrealistic, especially when compared to the standards of PE class.

Taking 15 hours a week of sports is a lot of time commitment. Although it is possible, students would end up spending a great amount of time doing sports and less time doing homework or other extracurricular activities, which are important for college applications. Especially during high school, students should focus on beefing up their resumes in order to appeal to their preferred colleges.

It is true that many students are serious athletes who are focusing mainly on sports in order to earn scholarships, but regardless of how serious an athlete is, school work is still important. With the heavy homework load and pressures to do well in high school, students need a lot more time to spend on homework and studying. In order to meet the 15 hours a week requirement for contract PE, students would have to sacrifice their studying and homework time.

One reason that may be adding to the harsh requirements of contract PE is the need to meet fitness standards; the contract packet requires that students have met five out of six of the standards in the fitness test offered during freshmen year.

According to the California Department of Education, students are expected to “demonstrate knowledge of and competency in motor skills, movement patterns and strategies needed to perform a variety of physical activities”, “achieve a level of physical fitness for health and performance while demonstrating knowledge of fitness concepts, principles and strategies” and “demonstrate knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity.”

The truth is that many students taking PE class do not meet the fitness standards themselves and it is unreasonable for athletes to be expected to meet them. Regardless of the unfairness, most students signing up for contract PE get enough exercise 15 hours a week. They are able to meet the fitness standards in less than 15 hours a week of sports but are still unable to get contract PE because of the requirements.

Also, students take three PE classes a week which adds up to about four hours a week, yet contract PE students have to commit to 15 hours of sports each week. Not only do contract PE athletes spend much more time doing physical exercise, but the exercise they do is often more intense. It is unfair that the time requirements for contract PE are so high when students are only required to take four hours of PE class each week.

Many students have also been in outside of school teams for a number of years and have built strong bonds with their teammates and coaches. This requirement forces them to either play in two teams at once or leave their old team, which can be difficult to manage.

Paly sports are also divided into fall, winter and spring seasons and each season has specific sports assigned to it. This means that if student athletes want to have a year-long prep, they would have to choose another sport during seasons that do not offer their sport or choose a sport not offered at school and get contract PE.

For instance, since golf is only offered during fall, golf players would have to choose an alternative during winter and spring to keep their prep. This is extremely unfair as many students dedicate time and money in and outside of school into specific sports that they are passionate about.

Students who spend a lot of time in sports deserve to have a prep period in order to catch up on homework and rest. It is unfair to student athletes that the requirements for contract PE are so harsh.