Varsity Versus Gym Class This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 1, 2010
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Game day has finally arrived. College scouts watch every move the varsity athlete makes, the plays he executes, and how much pain he can endure. As if nerves are not enough, the athlete has just finished a strenuous workout in gym class. For years, varsity student athletes have tried to balance school, sleep, sports, and homework. Participating in gym causes unnecessary stress and strain on an athlete's body and mind. High school athletes should have gym class scheduled for the last period of the school day so they can head to their athletic events.

Physical education activities, such as running, lifting, or biking, drain an athlete of his energy. Since gym class is part of a student's grade point average, athletes must work just as hard as other students to receive a satisfactory grade. Recently, many schools have begun using heart-rate monitors, giving gym teachers the ability to grade students on how hard their heart is working. The more active life a person lives, the lower his heart rate. So, a varsity athlete must work extra hard to maintain an elevated heart rate.

According to Dr. Donohue in The Daily News from Batavia, N.Y., “Overtraining is as harmful as no training.” By participating in gym class, an athlete is at risk of overtraining and will not be able to play at the top level during practice and games.

Varsity athletes get home at least three hours later than other students, resulting in them doing homework late into the night instead of sleeping. At the same time, varsity athletes must keep their grade point average at a certain level if they want to compete. According to Cheri Mah, a leader in a study about sleep for the Associated Professional Sleep Society, sleep is the biggest factor that is weighing down athletes.

In order to complete schoolwork, an athlete may stay up late into the night, which may affect his performance in academics as well as sports. The University of Stanford did a study where members of the women's tennis team attempted to get 10 hours of sleep a night. The results showed those who did ran faster and hit more accurate shots. By starting practice during gym class, athletes will arrive home earlier, giving them more time to finish homework and get to bed.

Doing this will also decrease the risk of injury, since the athlete's body will not receive as much stress and strain. Gym class is not as easy as some believe. In recent years, it has become more vigorous and physically demanding with the nation's fight against childhood obesity. According to an article by Steven Reinberg from the Gannett News Service, gym class injuries increased by 150 percent from 1997 to 2007. Joints can only move so fast, muscles can only lift a certain amount, and lungs can only hold so much air. Gym impedes the amount of work a varsity athlete can do. Muscles need time to rest after a workout. An athlete who participates in gym may be unable to give his muscles the time needed to heal, putting him at risk of injury.

Some people argue that varsity athletes should participate in gym class. They believe athletes make the choice to take part in an extracurricular activity, so they should not receive special treatment. These people must be unaware that participating in sports actually helps a high school student. It teaches young people to listen to authority, communicate with others, and become responsible. Some students participate in athletics because they need a college scholarship. Varsity sports have a positive effect on students, and gym class hinders their success.

By having gym class scheduled during last period, varsity athletes could begin their extracurricular activities earlier. This will allow them to put forth their best effort at practice and games, get home earlier to complete schoolwork, get more rest, and lessen the risk of injury. Most varsity athletes do their best to maintain a balance, and by not having to take gym they will lead a healthier and less stressful life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

Joyce said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm
I love your article! As a varsity athelete myself(i play tennis) I can defintely relate to that. Although my school, fortunately, do have sixth period sport, in which we can practice earlier and thus end earlier, I know how hard it is for student-atheletes to balance school and sports. Although I start practice earlier, I get home around 6ish and don't start homework and study until 7. During season, games can take even longer and I end up sleeping later than usual. I hope schools are changing s... (more »)
Wazoo12 replied...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:47 am
look at the end of the day you need to do what you need to do to get the job done. If you cant handle some homework assignments and gym classes then maybe you shouldnt play sports. Multiple people at my school play three sports and have a 4.0 average. If you want to do it all you can , dont ever second guess yourself and try to find a way out.
SundanceKid said...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm


I am trying to convince my school to make gym class optional for athletes, as i am a high level cross country runner and a compition nordic skiier and i feel the same way. I would like to use your article to prove points. Thank you

416tmw said...
Oct. 29, 2010 at 11:37 am
I love this article! I agree with all the points that were being made. People do not realize what athletes go through to perform well. Balancing homework and school, sleep and sports is very stressful! Sometimes I don't go to bed until one or two o'clock in the morning on school nights trying to get my homework done. Then I wake up in the morning in and have at least two and half hour practice for one of the four sports I participate in.
Kelley H. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it! May I add that you and I sound exactly alike?! I play four sports as well and life can become a balancing act at times...
mgb405 said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm
I agree that high school athletes should have gym class at the end of the day. They can start practice and not waste time to get dressed. Being an athlete, that is always why people are late at practice. They will also get more practice time.
ars306 said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 10:46 am
I totally agree that high school athletes should have gym class scheduled at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, at my school all athletes have physical education the last hour of school. I say it's pretty tough to balance school, sleep, sports, and homework because it's like one event after another. I can relate to when you said, "by having gym class scheduled during last period, varsity athletes could begin their extracurricular activities earlier," because we would definitely be able to ... (more »)
runnergrl said...
Feb. 15, 2010 at 6:03 am
I agree with you, but why only varsity athletes? Even if they don't have a huge natural ability for their sports other athletes still work hard.
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