I’m the first to admit the health advantages behind a rousing game of pickleball, but my physical education class in high school taught me jack squat about living a healthy lifestyle after I had graduated and was no longer required to wear the same moldy, malodorous gym shorts five times a week while avoiding body checks in floor hockey from kids about three steps further down the puberty line than me.
While it’s probable that I did learn some tips about eating and exercising properly from health class, all I can remember from that experience is The Slide Show, which consisted of cauliflower-shaped adult genitalia completely ravaged by sexually transmitted diseases. It’s why I don’t eat my eggs over-easy.
But physical education for me was just a different game every single day, with an occasional mile or fitness test sprinkled in. I remember sophomore year when the administration told the P.E. teachers they had to give tests, and we’d get one-page diagrams asking us to label all the marks on the basketball court. How physically educational!
Physical education actually started with the ancient Greeks, who’d have their children do all kinds of physical tasks to prepare them for battle. During the World Wars, the modern version of the class was instated to keep young men in shape in case there was ever need for a draft.
If kids today had to be drafted for some reason, the only fit muscles in their bodies would be in their thumbs—from playing Halo 3 on Xbox 360. I guess they’d at least be prepared for war mentally.
We’re a country of fat people who are giving birth to fat children and feeding them greasy pizzas, Krispy Kremes, and unhealthy hamburger-like substances from fast food restaurants. When we actually are convinced we’re eating something healthy, like a salad for example, we end up dumping six pounds of ranch dressing on it, unaware that ranch is like one step away from dumping frapped bacon grease on our greens. Delicious!
So we should try something new with our physical education classes. Set up contests amongst kids to lose percentages of their body weights, a la “The Biggest Loser.” Find ways to get those chunky kids moving, and ways to keep the skinny ones skinny. I, for example, am the same height I was at age 15. The only difference is that I weigh about forty pounds more ten years later. Games, challenges, competitions… all with real prizes. Wouldn’t this be the best solution for our country’s obesity crisis? Start with America’s P.E. standards and work from there. Teach them a good diet, good exercise habits—and make them excited about it—and we’ll see tangible differences.
People need to take responsibility for their actions. Except me. I’d rather just blame my P.E. education for the forty pounds I’ve put on since 1997. That’s really at the heart of all this. Anybody with me?