Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hollywood gets an "F" in gym-Guest Column

Written by: Lane Schurr is the president of the Northern District of IAHPERD and the 2003 Illinois Middle School Physical Educator of the Year.


The big screen, the smell of popcorn and the comfort of lounging back in a theater chair is all part of the fun of "going to the movies." Like any other red-blooded American, I enjoy a good thriller or an action-packed drama, a super sci-fi and even the occasional gut-splitting comedy on the silver screen. But, I have to say that Hollywood has failed to portray any positive image of physical education. You remember; that class in school where you learned to do push-ups, play together as a team, handle the agony of defeat and feel the thrill of victory. More importantly, you learned why it is important to have a healthy heart. I'm sure you still talk about some funny "P.E. class stories" at your class reunions and walk away smiling saying "Those were the days."

Unfortunately, Hollywood has not shared any such stories with the American public. The stories it has told were of ones that "gym" class is cruel and unusual punishment and cannot be taken seriously. Only the strong shall survive and the movies hero will beat the system at his or her own game. A few such examples can be seen in movies like Porky's, Big, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science and the more recent release Mr. Woodcock.

In the day and age where America has become known as the most overweight and out-of-shape country in the world, we continuously take steps backwards. School districts across the country look for ways to cut costs and without much hesitation they put physical education on the chopping block or pass a waiver for students to bypass the class. On the news and in the newspapers we constantly hear and read about our youth killing each other and ask the question "Why?" Physical Education is one class in our public school's curriculums that teaches children "How to get along" Yet, we look for ways to get rid of it. The national forum has implemented "No Child Left Behind" policy which states that every child will score 100-percent on state exams by the year 2014. Physical education is not included in the policy.

Every day, thousands of physical educators across this great country put on their tennis shoes and go to work. They teach children how to run, jump, hop and be healthy. They also teach the students the importance of teamwork and that everyone can succeed with some effort. But through all the rigors of teaching, the climb for recognition and importance seems to be "never-ending." Like a big bully, there sits Hollywood laughing at us. The story of a young physically handicapped boy scoring a goal in soccer for the first time or the young girl diagnosed with a heart disease is able to score a basket as her classmates look on and cheer in her P.E. class. Why aren't these stories being told about physical education classes? Instead, Hollywood wants to show the physical educators as sexual predators as seen in the movie Teachers. Physical education is a wonderful class for all students and has taken a beating over the years from many different angles.

Hollywood has taken strides in creating a good and positive image of educators with such movies as Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus. The world of sports has received great recognition with such classics as Remember the Titans, Radio, The Rookie and the list goes on. Yet, there is physical education class standing in the corner being laughed at and abused by the big bully "Hollywood." Enough is enough, it is time to rewrite some scripts and give physical education its well-deserved dues of recognition. Until then, the "F" still stands on my report card.