NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

The gym class debate: Optional vs. required 

Many high schools offer gym class as a graduation requirement. Given that a lot of the students play sports or go to the gym on their own time, some would argue that gym class is not worth the time slot it occupies in a school schedule. On the other hand, America also has a large obesity problem and having mandatory gym classes for public schools could be part of the solution. 

An article in the Daily Americanewspaper titled, “Question of the week: Should physical education be optional?, says that if a person doesn’t want to participate, they won’t and that many of the students who don’t participate are the “unhealthy students” who are often left feeling “embarrassed and out of place.... 

The article also questions why music or art class isn’t required every year. Gym fulfills the needs of athletic kids versus creative kids who would prefer to put their efforts into the arts or any of their own passions. Limiting access to the arts can hinder high school students when deciding what colleges to attend because they have not had the opportunity to explore their interests and therefore are at a disadvantage in comparison to some of their peers.  

Aidan Foley, a freshman majoring in international business also thinks gym class should be mandatory. “It gives kids the chance to take a break from schoolwork and helps them start a healthy lifestyle.” he says.  

With access to physical education, students with ADHD and other kids who need to keep active, are less likely to struggle with their academics and can stay focused during class time.  

Ben Ashworth, a freshman majoring in education believes that gym class should be mandatory in all grades. It keeps kids active, and it helps with their work giving them breaks in-between classes. 

“Kids need to want to want to come to school and [for] some kids, gym is their only class they look forward to coming to. It definitely helps kids with learning about obesity problems and how to avoid becoming obese.” Ashworth says. 

Given the opportunity, many students would benefit from having gym class but there are pros and cons for both sides of the argument 

Deciding to make physical education mandatory should be made on a case-by-case basis for each school and what is best for their specific student population.