Every week at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, students have to run the track as many times as possible in hopes of a good grade. In its 12th year at the middle school, Fitness Day has added a "bigger physical component in phys-ed that everyone can gauge and do," said Mr. Ferrante, one of the gym teachers. However, a straw poll indicated that 100% of students in a single class did not like Fitness Day.
"Athletes should be excused from Fitness Day because if I'm already tired out when I get to soccer, I won't participate the way I should, which could lead to me getting kicked off the team, and I am counting on soccer to help me with college," said soccer player and 8th grader Kieran M. Many other people agreed, saying that it is unfair to make athletes run when they already get so much exercise out of school.
For example, 8th grader Charlotte G. is a competitive swimmer who, after Fitness Day, said she is too tired to swim the 5,000 yards she usually has the ability to do.
Some Summit students play four sports at a time, including 8th grader Josie R., who plays lacrosse, basketball, field hockey and dance. 'Athletes already do so much physical activity, they shouldn't have to do extra."
But Ferrante said that excusing athletes is a bad idea. "Fitness Day is an activity other than the one they already participate in, and it improves fitness for an athlete's regular sport,” he said. “Also, it isn't enough to exhaust somebody.”
According to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, about one-third of children aged 10-17 have been found to be obese. This alarming amount could be a reason for Fitness Day being so important in the school's eyes.
There are also students who disagree with having athletes exempt from Fitness Day policies. Eighth grader Katie C., who does dance, tennis and martial arts, said everyone should have to do Fitness Day because it "keeps everyone in shape." According to Katie, Fitness Day improves performance in an athlete's after-school sport.
Some think athletes actually have an advantage on Fitness Days, because their superior stamina helps them run more laps, resulting in a better grade. For example, 7th grader Rawleigh P. runs cross country, swims and plays soccer and lacrosse. Rawleigh runs an average of 18 laps, which is six laps above the amount needed to get an A. However, on some days he has demanding sports right after school and doesn't want to spend his time at school doing extra. As a compromise, he suggested that, "if they have a sport immediately after school, they should be excused.