Sunday, January 11, 2009

Personal fitness programs in schools are long overdue

Here's an uplifting article. News comes in today's New York Times of physical education classes and how they are improving on Long Island. This would appear to be an innovative trend worth embracing by the physical education community of instructors as a whole, across the country and around the world.

Traditional physical education classes have stressed team sports and have abandoned students with preferences for less ball-playing, team-oriented environments. Teaching a mindset that encourages individual physical health is a higher goal than the sports programs achieve at most schools. Sports programs in high schools favor the team excellence that leads to college scholarships and stratospheric salaries in professional teams. That's fine for a tiny percentage of students, and good exercise for the remainder of team participants.

But those students without experience or interest in team sports are often left without any sports alternatives. They should be offered more desirable physical activity choices and provided with opportunities to pursue individual choices to achieve "personal best" results. Personal recreational activities that are good preparation for a lifetime of good physical health include jogging and walking distances, weight lifting, dancing, and swimming laps and distances. After all, energy is usually not the problem with students.

While throwing balls around for exercise has been around for a long time, organized sports like basketball and football are themselves modern inventions. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, came from Ottawa, Canada (my hometown). This entry claims Naismith was "ordered" in a job to create a game as a diversion. Little could he have known what has happened to basketball and sports salaries in general.

Do you agree? Do you think schools should overhaul their educational programs to initiate and encourage lifelong participation in sports? Please comment.

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