Athletic PE Requires Substantial Reform

Many students who do sports unaffiliated with Campo are angry, as hours spent practicing and training for their sports are gone to waste when the school district doesn’t recognize those for athletic PE credit. Although students within our school district are eligible for Athletic Physical Education in their sophomore and junior years to substitute taking a PE elective class to obtain their second year of PE credits, the Athletic PE system has its flaws.

Supposedly, participating in a season of a sport such as tennis, golf, or swimming, counts for 5 credits, which could be obtained in half a year of a PE class. However, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) website states that “70 hours must be completed to obtain 5 credits.” While this is a reasonable amount of hours, some sports, such as girls tennis, barely reach this threshold, according to tennis player junior Jill Seater. This means that if someone misses a few practices due to injuries or an illness, they risk their credits.

Additionally, students can only participate in school sports to obtain their PE credits, so club sports and sports done outside of school, such as dance and gymnastics, don’t count despite the intense time commitment. These students must waste one of their periods taking a PE elective when it could’ve been replaced by another class in a subject of interest or a free period doing homework or studying.

As someone who dances 15 hours a week, I find it extremely frustrating that I had to spend additional time doing PE when I could’ve easily obtained my credits from dance.

While independent PE was allowed in the 2021-22 school year, it was only acceptable for that year and was available to juniors only due to the pandemic.

Head counselor Duane Magno said that the district was “not interested in having [independent PE] be an avenue for students to meet their PE requirements.”

Having independent PE as an option for students would make Athletic PE a lot less stressful and time consuming. In fact, other school districts offer independent PE to students starting in middle school. With other schools offering independent PE, AUHSD has no clear reason not to offer it too.

Many students also struggle with turning in the weekly time cards due to time constraints from schoolwork and other activities, and they have to find an opportunity outside of their packed schedule to ask their coaches, who are probably equally as busy, to sign the form. The repetition of filling out the same thing week after week also creates a dull environment that takes away from the purposes of participating in a sport. This could easily be solved by requiring the coaches to sign a form at the end of the year confirming the student was present at most practices and games.

Furthermore, there is a maximum amount of hours students are allowed to log each day. For practice and training, the maximum amount of hours is 4, while tournaments, which typically last longer, have a max set at 3. This doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of time students spend on their sport, especially at tournaments.

Despite spending over 6 hours at a tennis tournament, “I still had to put down 3 hours because that was the max amount that [I could] put down,” said tennis player junior Stephania Lieben.

In addition, students have been scammed out of their hours because they forgot to turn in a few time sheets or were sick. Junior Claire Damiano, who plays on the girls lacrosse team, forgot to turn in a few time sheets and now has to take a PE elective her senior year despite being an active member on the team for the season. Similarly, wrestler junior Atlas Benko participated in wrestling for most of the season and reached the required amount of hours, but was forced to argue with the directors in order to obtain their credits due to unexpected circumstances.

Given that we’ve just come back from a pandemic, you would think being sick, COVID or not, would be a valid excuse to miss the 70 hour threshold by a mere few hours. These students, however, never received their credits despite being active members of the team when they weren’t sick. Being sick should never be the factor preventing students from reaching their 70 hours.

Although good in concept, Athletic PE is a strange system that causes more problems than it solves. It only benefits a small group of students who participate in a school sport, have the time and energy to fill out the repetitive forms after hours of practice, and don’t run into unexpected circumstances during the season. Reform, however, will take time and effort from all sides.