Ready, Set, Remember! Posted on February 16th, 2010 by

Of all the subjects offered in school, physical education is the one students take least seriously.  Gym is the ‘fun’ class where you receive little or no homework, play games most days and are guaranteed high marks if you just come to class. 

Most days, at the beginning of class we would do some exercises which would be followed by a rousing match of whatever game it was we were focusing on that week.  We played (attempted) every game imaginable.  We tried everything from softball to bowling to dodge ball .  We even played unconventional games like crab soccer (soccer played in a crab position with an oversized stuffed ball) and Mission Impossible (a game of teamwork involving crossing the gym without touching the floor).  A unit on a legitimate game that had real rules (think any sport found in the Olympics) was always anteceded by a test on rules, strategies and scoring.  The announcement of a unit test was always met with groaning because, as everyone knows, you don’t get tests in gym class.  No one ever liked gym tests because (1) they were out of place, and (2) when would we ever need to know how the dimensions of  a lacrosse field or how to keep score in bowling?  Needless to say, the information we learned when studying for these tests were quickly lost deep within our grey matter after the exam was over.  After all, it wasn’t like these were skills we would need to know in real life.

Or so we though.  This year I have found myself reintroduced to all of the games I knew from Phy. Ed. like badminton, tennis and volleyball.  Finding myself back on the court, I regretfully wish I had paid more attention in gym class.  How was the proper grip of a badminton racquet again?  How was scoring in tennis done? I remember something of ‘love’ and ‘advantage’ and such, but then again, it was never was real clear in the first place.  It doesn’t help that I have abominable hand-eye coordination and a terrible sense of depth-of-field.  There is a reason I am a swimmer and a runner.  On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter if you know the rules of the game if the people you play with don’t always follow the traditional rules.  I don’t know much about volleyball, but I’m not sure it was intended to be played with kicking and heading as you might find in a soccer game. 

Despite my lack of skill and finesse, it is fun to play these games again.  And perhaps it is even more amusing for the other players to watch the girl who has no coordination and can only hit the ball two out of every five times.  So let this be a less to all of you 9th graders out there – pay attention in gym class.  Students always complain, “When will we ever need to know this?”  The answer is, even the most arcane bits of knowledge have a purpose and undoubtedly, they will come in handy when you least expect them to.


One Comment

  1. Robert Shoemaker says:

    Hello Mara,

    I’m curious if the library at the University you’re associated with has a need for some of my old textbooks? I have several varieties to choose from and I wonder if they could be used in the library or Biology department? They are taking up space in my back cabinets, are not being used and feel it’s a big waste just to throw them away.

    Have really enjoyed reading your posts and have even used a few in my Ecology class. Particularly liked the entries on water. Stay in touch.