Free period for in-season athletes

by Emma Neubart, Staff Writer

Last year, just a few hours before the Bergen County semifinals game against Lyndhurst, a starting player of the soccer team was playing a game in gym class with a group of their friends. While playing the game, two of the kids smashed heads. The soccer player cut their eyebrow open and was rushed to the hospital, where they had to get 14 stitches. The athlete was on the cusp of not being able to play in the game because of their injury. Yet, after long discussions with the school athletic trainer, athletic director, doctors, and coaches, the player was able to play.

Gym class injuries like these not only happen in Glen Rock High School, but around the country. According to The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics an estimated 405,305 children/ adolescents were treated in emergency departments for gym class related injuries within the years 1997-2007. Do we really want to put these young people, who are already involved with out of school sports and physical activities in additional risk? 

High schools around the country should offer a free period, (an option) for students who are actively in a season for their sport. This should occur so that student athletes aren’t put at risk, like the athlete above, to hurt themselves in gym class and have to sit out of their out of school sports. 

In 2011, it was recorded by US that 7.6 million students in the country play sports. That is 55.5% of the students within the entire United States. And this number is growing slowly but surely. Athletic participation increases about 100,000 students per year. 

In our generation, high school, collegiate, and even recreational sports have grown to become big parts of people’s lives. Gym class activities do not have to damper students out-of-school fun, and success in their sports. 

Gym class gives kids who aren’t motivated or can’t exercise outside of school an opportunity to get active and get some work out into their day, but do kids who DO get the exercise out of school and DO participate in physical activity need to do even more? 

Business Insider states “The current exercise guidelines for adults recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity — or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity.” The typical inseason sport practices about 1.5 hours at least. With at least one game throughout the week or on the weekend. If a sport follows those practice and game schedule, that is already 360 minutes a week of physical activity. Minus the usual out of season practices, individual workouts, additional games, that are typically taking place throughout the week as well. These numbers are already exceeding the healthy exercise limit. To have gym class for a minimum of 4 hours a week just add 240 more minutes to that total. It is too much to put on growing and developing bodies.

Student athletes achieve less academically than non student athletes. With more to focus on besides just school, clubs, and getting a paying job, student athletes have an added stress when it comes to academics. Although their GPAs do not differ from non- athletes, athletes typically do poorer on standardized tests that non-athletes. One reason being that they just don’t have as much time to prepare. It allows student athletes allows them to work hard on academics and gives extra time to prepare for exams, but it also improves their game.