P.E. Classes Struggling to Stay Afloat
By Robert Fenbers
In an age where communication and technology classes are on the rise, one class seems to be falling behind.
Remember what your favorite class was in school? Admit it. You said “Phys Ed.” It seems like those days are long gone. Phys Ed classes have been declining over the years, more specifically, at the Tri-C Western Campus. It has become a familiar scene for students to log onto their MyTri-C Space looking to sign up for P.E. classes and see “canceled” across the registration screen.
This has left educators like Christine Phillips asking why?
“I am puzzled,” says Phillips, a 23-year veteran and faculty coordinator for the P. E. Department and, for the last half-decade, a full-time professor. She has seen the decline in person over the years.
“It has been a disconcerting downward trend in participation,” she said.
One factor may be the sheer number of classes available to take. There were 46 eligible classes at the beginning of registration for the 2014 spring semester at the Western Campus. As registration came to a close, 46 percent of those classes were in danger of being canceled.
Multiple offerings for the same courses contributed to this danger. This caused low enrollment numbers in each offering of the various classes. The solution was to cancel one course and hopefully the other would fill up, Phillips explained. That is exactly what happened.
On the other hand, the Metro Campus saw a rise in P.E. classes enrollment, but that statistic is deceiving as they only had 10 classes available.
Another reason for the decline may be competition. Phillips ensured the classrooms and school gym is a great learning environment filled with dedicated instructors to help improve your fitness and health. Yet some students choose to use a local gym rather than the school’s facilities.
Western Campus student Jodi Lonitro has done just that. She said she has not taken a P.E. class and does not plan on taking one in the future.
“Why would you want to go to a class when you can go to the gym?” Lonitro asked.
It seems like this ideal is becoming popular and may be a contributing factor to the drop in attendance of P.E. classes at Western.
Phillips said it’s all about being held accountable.
“Students sign up for P.E. classes because it fits into their day. Students want good instruction on Pilates, Zumba and how to actually workout and develop your own program.”
A seemingly forgotten aspect of the decline has been the older community residents. Many senior citizens end up not being able to take classes because they’re canceled due to low enrollment. Per the Program 60 program, any senior citizen over the age of 60 can register for P. E. classes after the class begins. Phillips has seen many seniors sign up, but not enough younger students.
The future of P.E classes is in question.
“My ideal future for P.E is that it be made mandatory again,” Phillips said. This would obviously improve attendance and help people become healthier. As of right now, P.E. classes are not mandatory at Tri-C, unlike four-year colleges where it is likely required.
“A while ago, years ago, it was taken off the books as being mandatory; I think that did our students a huge disservice. Students don’t do optional,” she said.