Varsity athletes should be exempt from required gym classes

Varsity athletes should be exempt from required gym classes

Luke Bloomer, Contributor

Athletes go out of their way to become the best they can to compete at the highest level for their respective teams. These students already go above and beyond to be much more active than the average student, and yet they are still stuck in required gym classes knowing they also have 2+ hour practice after school.


Prior Lake High School requires all students to take 1.5 credits of physical education classes which is equivalent to 2 quarter-long classes. This and all other requirements can be found on the Prior Lake Counseling Website.


With both the current and new standards to be implemented for the 2023-2024 school year, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) requires all high school students to participate at least once in a physical education class. However, as it says on the MDE website, “The amount of time, credit and graduation requirement is determined at the district level.” 


Every individual standard and substandard that students are expected to meet can be found on the MDE website HERE, but below are the main 5 benchmarks the standards address:


  1. Competency in motor skills and movement patterns.
  2. Application of knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics to movement and performance.
  3. Demonstration of knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain physical fitness and physical activity.
  4. Demonstration of responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  5. Recognition of the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction.


All of these standards can and should be met by a student who is actively a part of a varsity sport. 


The MDE requirement that all high school students to take a physical education class when many athletes could immediately pass these standards with flying colors is unnecessary. A one-hour gym class that most kids won’t put much effort into will have an insignificant effect on an athlete’s health compared to the efforts they put in during multi-hour practices outside of school.  


For example many varsity sports such as lacrosse, soccer, and alpine ski have 2 hour long practices for 4 or more days a week. Baseball and swimming require even greater physical commitment at 3 hours a day for 6 days a week, and none of these numbers include the extra hours added from games/meets.


While one could argue that not all participants in a sport may be up to the physical standards set by the MDE, an option such as allowing either only athletes, or everyone, to test out of these requirements would be a good thing for all students. This would help not only athletes but other healthy students who don’t need those classes as well.


Even if changing these requirements at the state level isn’t possible, changing the school graduation requirements is still an option. Letting Laker athletes take only 1 gym class, as is required by the MDE, instead of the two required would allow them to replace those required gym classes with other electives. 


These electives could be ones that they just enjoy, or electives to help them decide a path for their future. This would help give athletes more time to do what they want in school and help them prepare more for their future.