Many M-A students devote numerous hours to sports outside of school, yet are unable to transfer the hours they spend with outside teams towards their graduation credits.
M-A students need 20 Physical Education (P.E.) credits to graduate. P.E. is required for all freshmen, but participation in M-A sports teams for the remaining three years can satisfy the rest of the credit requirements. Approximately 46% of M-A’s population play for an M-A team.
Athletic Director Steven Kryger said that the District first changed its P.E. policy to prohibit students from transferring outside sports hours to class credits “around 15 years ago.” Since then, the District policy has remained the same, though Woodside and Carlmont offer more options for students taking a second year of P.E. Both schools offer Dance and Weight Training in addition to the common P.E. 2.
Supporters of this policy explain that it gives all students an equal chance at fulfilling P.E. graduation requirements regardless of their participation in club teams. P.E. Department Head Pamela Wimberly said, “Not everybody can get out there and ride a horse and get credit, or figure skate and get credit. It wasn’t that helpful for some parts of our population.”
In addition, on-campus P.E. classes do have benefits, as the M-A P.E. curriculum is packed with various units. Wimberly said, “P.E. provides a variety of activities. If you’re on an athletic team—maybe you’re a volleyball player—you miss the dance, swim, and lacrosse programs that we teach. I think the benefit is you really get an overall idea of different activities that you can do later on in life.”
Kryger also cited social benefits. He said, “It’s one of the places where you really, especially for freshmen, end up in probably the most mixed of our classes in terms of socioeconomic status and culture. You learn how to work as a team when you’re playing team sports or interacting in other units like dance. So, I think being able to learn how to interact with so many people from different backgrounds is really valuable.”
Wimberly said, “I sincerely believe everybody should take P.E. 2 as well as P.E. 1. All the freshmen take the same course, and every sophomore should take P.E. 2. It probably won’t happen, but that’s my view.”
However, club athletes are disappointed with both M-A’s P.E. policy and online P.E. courses.
Sophomore Emily Pecore has been on a club crew team outside of school since eighth grade. She said, “I’m at crew practice three hours a day, six days a week. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. A single crew practice is about as much exercise as two weeks of the on-campus P.E. 1 course I took last year.”
Junior Maddie Phan, who figure skates, said, “It’s a little bit frustrating to me because I definitely work out more than I would in a P.E. class, but I had to take a P.E. class even though I was still getting exercise.”
To free up their schedules after freshman year, students not on M-A teams can opt to take an online P.E. course to fulfill their second year requirement. Counselors suggest BYU’s P.E. courses for concurrent enrollment.
The descriptions of BYU Independent Study P.E. courses show they vary in how many weeks they take and their rigor, but they still take time out of already busy schedules. Junior Aaryan Patel, who also does rowing, said, “I’ve definitely struggled with having to take P.E. Since it will reduce the amount of classes I can take during school, I’ll have to do concurrent enrollment, and with my already busy schedule it’s definitely a real burden.”
Like many others, Pecore said she took BYU’s weightlifting course so she wouldn’t have to “take a class and waste a period on P.E. when I’m already working out a lot more than I would be in P.E. class. It’s a lot of busy work, and it takes a lot of time.”
Additionally, Pecore said, “I’m not able to complete the course I’m taking until after 20 weeks because I have to self-report my hours three times a week.” Some club athletes wonder, if BYU P.E. courses are essentially a form of self-reporting hours, why can’t students self report their hours spent on an outside team for credit instead?
It’s difficult to draw a clear line between what’s allowed and what’s just an excuse to get out of P.E. That said, students voiced suggestions for how the current policy could change to allow the use of outside credits. Senior Abigail Wong, an ice skater, said, “There should be a number of hours or something to report how often you do that sport a week, so that you can show you spend a similar amount of time on it compared to a school sport.”
Junior Iris Stevenson, who does horseback riding, added, “Requiring hours is a really good idea. I had to log my hours of riding in order to get my varsity letter from a national horseback riding organization. So I think that’d be a really good system to put in place to track student participation.”
Patel said, “I would love it if you could get a coach to write a letter to the school or just sign a couple of documents to allow you to transfer credit and certify the fact that you do physical activity however many times a week you do it.”
Stevenson said, “I think they should put in place a system for validating organizations that kids play in. If the school can name a list of different organizations in the area that they allow credits from, maybe that would allow students who play in those organizations to get PE credits without jumping through a bunch of hoops.”
Stevenson continued, “Just because you happen to play a more conventional sport [that M-A offers] like soccer or football, you shouldn’t be exempted from P.E. any more than somebody who plays other sports.”