P.E. Done Right Can Improve Physical Fitness, Academic Performance and Reduce Behavioral Problems
By Ken Reed
In a new video report from The Atlantic, physical education programs in our nation’s schools are criticized.
Some of the criticism is justified, most notably in cases where the P.E. teacher simply rolls out the ball and allows the students to play games without any short-term or long-term wellness objectives. Criticism is also deserved for P.E. programs that allow humiliating activities like Dodgeball.
However, this video doesn’t look at P.E. at its best. It simply focuses on the negatives of less-than-optimal PE programs.
Regular (ideally daily) cardio-vascular-based PE programs, like the ones I talk about in my book “Game Changer” can definitely improve fitness levels, while also improving academic performance and reducing behavioral problems.
The best way to fairly evaluate all P.E. students — athletically-inclined and not athletically-inclined — is to use heart rate monitors. This helps teachers evaluate kids based on their effort, not performance. For example, by using heart rate monitors, P.E. teachers might discover that the most athletic kid in class might not be working as hard as the least athletic kid. The athletic kid may not be getting his/her heart rate up to the ideal heart rate zone during a mile run, while the non-athletic kid might be in the ideal heart rate zone despite finishing last in the mile.
With the use of heart rate monitors, each student can be graded on effort and improvements made toward personalized physical fitness goals, regardless of athletic ability, or current levels of fitness at the beginning of the semester. The athletic student who doesn’t push him-or-herself in class might actually deserve a C grade, while the slower, non-athletic student could earn an A grade.
The heart rate monitor can be used for all P.E. activities, not just the mile run, to determine how hard students are working during class activities. For example, during 3v3 soccer games, tennis matches, or physical activities like climbing.
According to former physical education teacher Phil Lawler, the primary subject of “Game Changer”:
“[a quality physical education program is] about enabling each student to maintain a physically active lifestyle forever. It means emphasizing fitness and well-being, not athleticism. It eliminates practices that humiliate students. And it assesses students on their progress in reaching personal physical activity and fitness goals. A [quality] program exposes kids to the fun and long-term benefits of movement — it’s really that simple.”
Simple, but sadly not the reality in too many physical education programs around the country today.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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