Gym Credits: the Inequity of Sports vs. Classes

Chris Maurice Managing Editor I’ve been on the swim team since my freshman year, and I thought I was going to be playing water polo for all four years as well. I’ve never considered taking a gym class because I thought I would never have to. This year, the boy’s swim team’s season began on November 23rd. Every day since then I’ve swam from 3:30 – 5:30 following school. Afterwards the team goes up to the weight room until 6:30. I don’t get home until 7. On some weekdays, if we have a meet, I don’t get home until later. Once a week we also have morning practice from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45.  On Saturdays if we have a meet it usually takes 6 hours. If we don’t have a meet on Saturday, we have practice, from 8a.m. to 10 a.m. Here is our schedule for next week (January 18th– January 23rd):

Monday (no school)- practice from 9 to 11

Tuesday- practice and weight from 3:30 to 6:30

Wednesday- practice and weight from 3:30 to 6:30

Thursday- morning practice from 6:30 to 7:45; practice after school and weight from 3:30 to 6:30

Friday- practice after school 3:30 to 5:30

Saturday- Shepard Invite meet 6:00 to 12:00

In total for this week, I’ll be spending 20 hours and 15 minutes doing some sort of swimming activity. The whole season, from November 23rd to February 20th, will be made up of:

36 practices after school and weight room (3 hours each) = 108 hours

8 morning practices (1 hour and 15 minutes) = 10 hours

13 practices lasting 2 hours = 26 hours

18 hours spent at swim meets.

This season, I will be spending 162 hours doing some sort of swimming related activity. This isn’t the case for just me and other members of the swim team; any student who participates in a sport at Latin can attest that playing a sport at Latin consumes a good chuck of time. For sports in the winter season, which include boy’s swimming, boy’s and girl’s basketball, and boy’s and girl’s hockey, athletes receive two credits of gym credit, out of the eight that are needed to graduate. Because of conflicts that arose, I stopped playing water polo after sophomore year. So, if you haven’t done the math already, I’ll just tell you: my 3 years of swimming and 1 year of water polo have given me 7 gym credits, just one short of the required amount needed to graduate. So, this year, I had to sign up for my first gym class ever. This process led me to realize that taking a gym class at Latin means less commitment, less time, yet I still get the same amount of gym credits. I calculated how much one block, A block, meets from the start of second quarter, October 19th, to the first day of fourth quarter, March 7th. A block, our hypothetical gym class, meets 56 times, 9 of which are long blocks. That leaves 47 regular blocks during these two quarters, which adds up to about 2,350 minutes of gym class. When added to the time from the long blocks (810 minutes), we get, in total, about 52.66 hours of gym class. That is a 110-hour difference from the time I’ve committed to swimming, and honestly, I find that completely unfair. If the gym credit system were balanced, I would be receiving six credits of gym. Now I’m not saying that I should get six credits of gym, I’m saying that for dedicating all his time to swimming, just as other athletes dedicated their time to their sports, we deserve to be rewarded at a somewhat equal level. This system of gym credits is unfair to the 80% of upper school students who play a sport, and I think it is safe to say that many of us don’t do it for gym credit—we do it because we love playing that sport. I would still be on the swim team if gym credits were not a graduation requirement. The gym credits I receive are not equal to the amount of time that I’ve spent in the pool, in the weight room, on the bus, or at a swim meet. I think it’s time that athletes who put their schooling on hold, and put their sport first, are rewarded—rewarded on more leveled basis when compared to those choose to take a gym class. The main purpose of making gym a graduation requirement is so that all students maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yet, someone who plays both a fall and spring sport for all four years still doesn’t have enough gym credits to graduate. Are they not healthy enough? What does that athlete gain from taking two quarters of gym? The current system of gym credits also affects someone who may be on the edge about joining a sport. They see that taking a gym class takes up less time and is less intense. Though there are many benefits to being on a team, one on the edge about playing a sport will usually favor taking a gym class over playing a sport. After an estimated 486 hours of swimming over the last three years I still don’t have enough gym credits to graduate, and I’d say I’m a pretty healthy guy.  ]]>