by Michelle Fairorth
Technology is taking academics to bold new heights, pushing boundaries and unfortunately interfering with aspects of school that it probably shouldn’t. For instance, did you know that you can earn your gym credits online?
The University of Texas and Texas Tech both offer online physical education (P.E.) classes that cost around $200 per semester, including textbooks. They require next to no effort besides memorizing sports guidelines and basic health concepts that a first grader could tell you, like the fact that smoking is more likely to cause lung cancer than maintaining a healthy diet. This means you can now pass gym class from a chair. Or your bed. Or your local Starbucks.
Most of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking “That’s absurd, no way.”
I realize that many people will expect me to slander this repulsively stupid idea. Online gym? Bit of an oxymoron there, isn’t it?
On the contrary, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Adults are finally inventing new ways for us kids to cheat our way out of getting our heart rates up past their usual faint, sedentary beat every day in gym class.
The way I see it, the world is divided into two kinds of high school students: those who get a creepy, sadistic kick out of pelting the rest of us with dodgeballs (which hurt a lot more than your gym teacher will admit) and those of us who come home every day and press wet towels gingerly against our dodgeball-shaped bruises, wondering why on earth we’re required to pass two semesters of the gratuitous class in order to graduate.
I’m sure you can work out which category I fall into.
I’m a girl, and in gym that makes me a minority. Don’t come within 10 feet of me wearing those wet tissues you have the audacity to call a jersey. Don’t yell at me when I can’t use a modified caveman’s club to hit a baseball that’s hurtling towards my face. And no, our teams can’t be shirts versus skins. The activities we kids are put up to in P.E. are not all “fun in the sun.” They’re torturous and borderline abusive. Unfortunately, if you ever want to lay a finger on your diploma, you’ll have to suffer through a year’s worth of migraines and flag football.
That is why I’ve resolved to worship online gym with the passion of an actual religion. If I hadn’t wasted my previous year flailing miserably through two embarrassing semesters of gym’s cruel and unusual punishment, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’d have signed up before you could say, “Online P.E. is the greatest thing since teachers actually started giving us iPads to use in class.”
The world has granted us the equivalent of a conceptual gym course. You can either waste your time weighing the pros and cons, contemplating the fairness of it all, or you can put your pride aside and take whatever leniency you can get.
Some still might argue about the cumulative effects that taking an online P.E. course might have on one’s ego, particularly its deterioration. After all, it’s got to be a new low in some record book or another.
Yeah? So is getting the crap beaten out of you by adolescent boys who take ‘Capture the Flag’ way too seriously. I mean, come on, it’s a gym class, people. You aren’t training for the Olympics. Last year I exempted my gym final. You can’t sink much lower than that.
If I can legally slack my way through gym class in the privacy of my own home and still manage to graduate, then I’m totally fine with whatever names you want to call me.
The rest of you can enjoy your mandatory daily shellacking in dodgeball and carrying around the stench of the locker room with you for the rest of your classes. Your friends will never hug you.
When it comes down to it, I can exercise without a teacher. I can eat without a bib, too.
Yes, maybe $200 is a lot to pay for a semester of online gym class. Your friends will not approve. They’ll ridicule you and call you terrible, unmentionable things. The coaches will glare daggers at you when they pass you in the hallway, and they’ll talk about you viciously behind your back. Your siblings will mock you relentlessly on their Facebook statuses.
So hold your chin up proudly and glare right back at those who judge you. When your friends call you lazy and threaten to call the ambulance when that inevitable heart attack finally hits, feel free to spit on them.
Take a seat in your most comfortable chair, prop your feet up for that foot massage you ordered and take a sip of your tall, chocolate chai tea latte, no whip. Pity those working up a sweat, struggling to lift weights in gym class while you memorize the standardized distance between two bowling pins to earn the exact same credit.
Now who’s laughing? That’s right. No shame, whatsoever.
Well, maybe just a little.
* This article is reprinted, with permission, from (believe it or not) the quarterly magazine produced by students at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, from which Nick Foles and Drew Brees, quarterbacks for the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, both graduated. Michelle Fairorth, 15, the niece of an editor at the Local, is an excellent student but not a star athlete, as you might have gathered from this article.