Currently, the physical education requirements at Westmont include three different exercise courses and a Fitness for Life class, totalling four credits. Everyone must follow these requirements, including student athletes. Westmont’s student athletes can only count their sport as one of those four credits despite playing for four years — the equivalent of eight credits, or more if you calculate the hours spent on athletics. They spend upwards of 15 hours exercising every week, but after the first semester, none of their hard work is reflected on their transcripts. Instead, athletes like basketball players Taylor Rarick and Stefanie Berberabe must attend an 8 a.m. yoga class before enduring a two hour basketball practice, an hour of weight training, followed by cryotherapy.
Student athletes at Westmont College work tirelessly every week in the gym, at practice, on the track, and on the field to faithfully represent Westmont against other schools. They dedicate their time and energy to being an outstanding example of what Westmont offers athletically. Westmont’s PE requirements need to be reformed to respect the time of those who spend hours training to be the best representative of their school possible.
Some may argue that exempting student athletes from this requirement would be privileging them over the rest of the student population. The issue with this is that most non-athletes are not spending even 10 hours a week intensively exercising. When Westmont’s student athletes go above and beyond the requirements of the general education system, they should be given credit for their work. Favoring student athletes would involve acts such as lowering the amount of credits needed for a major or a minor in the name of helping athletes manage their time. Giving them physical education credit for exercising is simply being fair.
Another argument against letting athletes count their sports as all the PE credits necessary would be that it discourages those students from branching out into other kinds of exercise and wellness practices. The fact of the matter is that most coaches do their best to keep their players healthy physically, mentally, and, at Westmont, spiritually. Coaches encourage things from stretching before bed to starting the day with praying and journaling. Student athletes get the education on exercise Westmont wants them to receive by doing it almost every day. Taking these other PE classes can actually be more harmful than helpful. Student athletes face exhaustion and overworking their bodies with practices, workouts, and games. Extra exercise is not the answer to these potential problems.
By requiring student athletes to fill up spots in their schedules with physical education courses, the already difficult process of forming class schedules becomes even harder. They already have to worry about scheduling classes around practices and games so their options are limited. These students already have a PE course taking up the spot of a potential class — their sport. They shouldn’t have to configure another one into their schedule. Westmont’s PE requirements for student athletes need to be reformed to be just and fair to the student athletes who consistently do more exercise than the average non-athlete who takes the three, two hour per week PE courses.