class memories either give you post-traumatic flashbacks or
the opportunity to relive your glory days. If you were a
sports star or even a mid-level jock, this isn’t for you.
This is for the rest of us.
Having to dress out.
every school requires that students change into a PE uniform
anymore. Some allow students to bring their own cute workout
attire. This may be further evidence of the wimpification of
today’s youths. Because we had to wear polyester
short-shorts, kiddos. These were also the clothes that stayed
stuffed in a gym locker for five days, so they weren’t just
ugly by Friday. They were ripe.
who desire to see their children suffer the same indignities
will be heartened to know that many districts still require
old school "dressing out."
paragraph, from the website of J.E.J. Moore Middle School in
the Prince George County Public Schools in Virginia, detailed
the overt reasoning:
uniform was adopted for safety reasons such as being able to
distinguish our students from others."
case, the covert reasoning may have been to render students
distinguishable from happier forms of life.
Louis’ Edwardsville High School will unveil its new swimming
pool for students to use during PE later this fall. This may
look like progress to some, but it is likely to strike fear in
the heart of any teenager who has struggled with a bad hair
ready for weeks of ponytails, ladies.
not even compare, however, to the dread of having to change
into a swimsuit in front of your entire class. Of course,
being able to swim is a life-saving skill, but wouldn’t it
be kinder to teach the kindergartners the swim unit?
instructors have a simple philosophy to all that may ail you.
your clothes to dress out? Laps.
attitude adjustment? Laps.
Friday? You guessed it: Laps.
misery points for those who have to run laps outside first
thing in the morning or right after lunch.
many gym teachers assign teams or have students count off into
teams to avoid Being Picked Last Syndrome. But there’s no
way to spare those who lack coordination for the sport of the
moment — or any activity requiring the simultaneous movement
of eyes and hands.
Miller, 20, a junior at the University of California-
Berkeley, remembers a day at high school that marked the start
— and end — of his athletic career.
He was a
freshman among several upperclassmen participating in an
end-of-the-year kickball game in PE. He had been waiting near
the back of the line and ran up to the plate to launch a
fell pretty flat on my ass," he said. He lay on the
ground for a few moments, covered his face with his hands and
shook with laughter, which seemed like the only reasonable
thing he could do at the moment, while 50 or so classmates
teacher, however, mistook his coping mechanism and ran up to
him to ask him if he was OK.
thought I was crying, which only made it worse," Miller
coach bent over and asked: "Are you OK, Anthony?"
only amplified the shame," Miller said.
matters even worse, Miller had been wearing white shorts. The
backside was covered in a large grass stain for the rest of
course, he had PE first period.
humiliated by the coach.
study by University of Alberta researcher William Strean found
that "a lifelong negative attitude toward physical
activity can be determined by either a good or bad experience,
based on the personal characteristics of the coach or
instructor. For example … a teacher who has low energy, is
unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students."
24 qualitative accounts from adults recalling their own
childhood gym experiences in the study, and some of their
memories were so painful that they carried those negative
associations well into adulthood.
enjoys being yelled at, embarrassed, teased or taunted,
certainly not by your peers, nor by a coach who may think he
or she is being motivational or funny.
label of being "bad" at sports or physical activity
can stay with an individual years beyond high school.
injury is never glamorous. It can happen in myriad
embarrassing ways: Falling, hitting yourself in the head,
running into a wall.
it’s made so much worse because you’re trying not to bawl
in front of your peers.
Brychel, 20, at the University of Kansas, recalled a kayaking
unit during a class she took in high school in St. Louis. They
were learning how to flip the kayak over in the pool. She
pushed off the side of the pool wall and came up to see a look
of horror on her friend’s face.
arm!" her friend said. Brychel had sliced her arm open a
couple of inches below her elbow, probably on a piece of tile
in the pool wall, she said.
that day, of all days, that they had a student teacher. The
student teacher looked horrified and unsure of what to do, she
told me to go straight to the nurse," Brychel said. She
wrapped herself in a big towel and her friend walked her down
to the nurse’s office. She remembers sitting in her wet
swimsuit in the air conditioning. The nurse took a look at her
arm and said: You’re going to have to go the emergency room.
mother came to pick her up and drove her to the hospital.
needed 24 stitches.
upside: "I didn’t have to do anything in PE for a
couple of weeks."
showers are a lose-lose proposition in the vast majority of
schools. Some schools have no shower facilities. Good luck to
those who have PE early in the day.
have invested in entire shower systems but couldn’t spring
for doors or shower curtains. Even in schools with
semi-private showers, no one ever uses them. During those
awkward years of puberty, who can blame them?
young people would have no shower than a shower with no
Patches O’Houlihan, who infamously said "If you can
dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."
everyone can dodge a wrench. Grade school is a harsh time to
Richardson, senior director of the SHAPE America, the Society
of Health and Physcial Educators, the organization that
produces national PE standards, says in an essay by Jessica
Olien on Slate that "dodgeball should not be part of any
teachers missed that memo.
busted faces and crushed egos.
people prefer to step on the scale in the privacy of their
bathrooms and refuse to share this information with even those
who share intimate living space with them.
schools, however, this annual ritual takes place front of
everyone. In a gym. Given how early children become aware of
body image issues, this can be a recipe for disaster.
never forget hearing a neighbor’s child lamenting that she
weighed too much. She was an active soccer player, physically
fit and trim.
in third grade.
age when many children do not want to be seen touching a child
of the opposite sex, they are forced to pair off, hold hands
and learn the "Cotton-Eye Joe."
good has ever come of this?