Editorial: High School Athletes Shouldn’t Have to Participate in PhysEd. Classes

Mallory Gillespie, Reporter

When Jake began playing basketball in second grade, he had no idea what was to come. Soon he would have morning lifts before school, practice after, and games until late at night. Additionally, he is expected to be an athletic and academic role model at school. He must find time to study, do homework, and get enough sleep to do it over again tomorrow. 

Replacing physical education class with a study hall would be beneficial for student athletes.

While sports can be the highlight of school for students, they can also cause an abundance of stress. Along with expectations to be dedicated to their sport, high school athletes are meant to excel academically. 

According to Ohio University Athletic Administration, athletics benefit stress levels by causing a distraction. However, they can undo this benefit by causing more stress to the athlete. Because of the strong commitment and passion most athletes have for their sports, they would not simply quit to help their situation.

There is not enough time in the day to reach the standards their coaches, teachers, and parents expect of them. By the time athletes get home from a late practice or game, they may still have two to three hours of homework. To top it off, they have to get geared up for the next day with 8 hours of sleep.

Without extra time in the school day, athletes are forced to stay up later. This decreases their sleep per night and becomes an endless cycle of exhaustion which begins affecting grades and performance.

Since athletes are already getting significant exercise each day, a study hall in replacement of a gym class would be very helpful to lessen the stress for tasks such as homework. 

The professional mindset of most high school athletes leads to self-exhaustion and overtraining. This conversation is not often brought up because of the societal pressures surrounding student athletes.

The National Federation of State High School Associations says, “Participation in athletics can lend to a culture that emphasizes the need to ‘Just play through it’ when injured, stressed or in pain. ‘No pain, no gain.’ Student-athletes can quickly allow their athletic accomplishments (or failures) to become their identity and source of self worth. This emphasis on athletics can cause significant stress and challenges in their lives.”

Marshall Mintz, a sport’s psychologist who has worked with student athletes for over 30 years says the biggest issue is sleep loss, which later contributes to things like anxiety and depression. 

By replacing an unnecessary physical education class with a study hall during high school athletes’ seasons, it would improve academic performance and lift stress. This would lead to more time to focus on their sports, school, and mental health.

In order to voice your opinion on the issue, email Hershey High School’s athletic director, Scott Govern.

Editor’s Note:  We’re conducting a survey about physical education classes at HHS.  Please consider answering four questions to help us out. Click here for the survey.