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Todd Wilson
Respecting Physical Education

The field of physical education has for many years been looked upon as a field of secondary importance. It has been placed behind fields such as mathematics, science, psychology, and nearly every other subject offered at not only our elementary and high schools, but our universities and colleges. Why do we, as a society, continue to stress the importance of being physically fit and active, but continue to remove physical education programs and sports from our schools? If being physically fit is as important as all the new studies show, shouldn't we be putting more physical education programs into our schools which will allow the opportunity for more students to participate, and shouldn't society as a whole respect the field of physical education as much other fields? In order to attain the level of respect that the field of physical education is well deserving of, we, as current and future professionals of the field must educate others about the importance of physical education in order to break down the barrier and finally receive the respect we deserve.

The first and most important thing that must be done is to make the opportunity for physical fitness and education equal for everyone. This includes people of all races, social classes, and gender. Things in the past such as Title IX and the ruling on Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas which stated that separate is not always equal have been large stepping stones on the path to equality, but future steps need to be taken. Recreation centers need to be established which gives people of a lower socioeconomic class the opportunity to exercise frequently. We must also eliminate racial and sexual stereotypes so that when these recreation centers are complete, women and minorities have an equal opportunity to hold administrative positions.

The opportunity for people to take part in physical fitness programs must also be made equal to people of all ages. The concept of lifespan physical education is a great idea. Getting children involved at an early age will hopefully cause children to continue being involved after school and into adulthood. A few possible ways to accomplish this would be doing things such as: breaking down the many stereotypes, put emphasis on adult exercise, create private sectors, increase the scientific aspect of physical activity, create new professions, and by producing greater amounts of information and technology. Doing these things and some others will hopefully increase the amount of physically fit people living in this country.

Another large part of physical education that must be overcome to improve the image of the field is the problem with exclusion. If physical educators want to be respected be others, they must respect others. There is no reason why students playing sports in school should be forced to quit simply because a coach feels that the individual is not good enough. If a b or c squad needs to be made, I feel it should be. This all relates back to physical educators wanting everyone to be fit. Why do we promote being physically fit and then turning around and denying someone the opportunity to be fit? Every individual who puts in a good effort should be included on a team. It may not be at the varsity level, but a team nonetheless.

It will be difficult for the field of physical education to reach the level of respect similar to others until the things I have written are set into action. Along with current programs being set into action, physical education needs to continue developing programs for children and adults which are inclusive and promote lifespan involvement in competitive and recreational activity. Whether or not the field of physical education will ever get the respect it deserves is unknown, but with the increasing awareness for the need of physical activity and education, and the desire of people to be physically fit, there is hope in the future.