It is possible to have a ball in gym class

Sweaty.  Boring.  Annoying.  When you think of gym class, these words fit the stereotype.  If you are athletic, gym seems to be a waste of time because you already participate in exercise after school.  If sports are not your thing, then participating in gym leads to a dreaded embarrassing moment.  No matter what your reasons for protest, gym will always be a mandated class to ensure kids stay healthy. However, gym doesn’t have to be sweaty, boring or annoying.  Or at least not boring or annoying.  The sweaty part, well, that never goes away. 

Gym this year was not what I expected.  Since I participate in sports after school, I always found gym in elementary school and middle school to be a waste of time.  The teachers made it intense, the games weren’t that great, and to get changed for a 45-minute period just didn’t make sense.   However, in high school, my attitude has changed.  Although changing for a 30-minute time frame still feels like a waste of time, the class is fun and actually enjoyable. 

Stereotypical gym class goes like this: The boys take over any game, and the girls get pushed to the side.  The games are dull and not everyone gets to participate much.  Some girls are afraid of the ball; others, like me, wish the ball would get passed to them more.  Arguing occurs, and the teachers make a big scene to resolve it.  Except for a rare occasion, gym is not fun. An occasion where gym was fun was in middle school, when we played “Capture the Flag” as a Learning Community.  There were four teams, and every team wanted to capture the others teams’ flags.  There were not endless rules associated with the game, and each player wanted to help his or her team, so camaraderie drove the game.  Unfortunately, this game was only played a few times a year.

In high school, gym actually becomes fun.  This most likely occurs because the teachers lay off the game, the boys respect the girls, and the games are fun when participating with friends in a game where everyone gets involved, like volleyball.   Now that I think about it, because circumstances such as these occur in high school, they lead to my enjoyment in gym. For example, my class began the semester with a volleyball unit, and our team consisted of two boys and six girls.  The boys obviously still made more of the plays, but the girls got to participate and make a difference in the game, too.  Even though a couple girls weren’t that good, they improved, and whenever they made a nice play, my team cheered and congratulated them. There was camaraderie; everyone wanted to have fun. 

I have heard from many people repeated phrases such as “Wow, gym is actually fun this year.” The teachers don’t constantly criticize each player, and they trust us enough to work out disagreements on our own.  This makes gym fun.  Not only do students stay healthy, but we get to make new friends and new memories with our teammates. 

Although gym has had a bad rap for decades, it doesn’t have to be like that forever.   Once students get to high school, camaraderie grows and there is more freedom to work out disputes, and gym actually becomes fun.   Although in grade school game choice and instruction isn’t up to the student, if one hangs in there long enough and keeps an open mind, one will find gym to  eventually be enjoyable.  Maybe with an open mind, students will stop complaining about homework…