I am a student athlete. Whenever I say this, I laugh to myself because I do not really believe that it is true, even though I have played on the Artemis Ultimate Frisbee team for four semesters. Club sports teams are not recognized by Lewis & Clark College as official sports teams which means they do not count to fulfill Physical Education (PE) credits. This creates a divide between club and official sports teams that ultimately forms a hierarchy, affecting students’ views of themselves as athletes.
Granted, varsity sports teams at LC have to participate in a lot more physical activity in order for this credit to be awarded, but club sports teams can also be just as physically demanding. Therefore, playing for a club sports team should count as a form of physical activity that is recognized by the school for students to gain PE credits.
LC requires students to take a minimum of two PE classes in order to graduate. Most of these classes meet for two hours a week and give students one credit towards graduation if they pass. It makes sense for student athletes to be able to bypass this requirement as they are exercising for far more than two hours a week. Most sports at LC practice for an average of about three hours a week and have additional team weightlifting sessions. However, while members of club sports teams do not have to train in the weightroom and meet less often than official teams, they also practice for more than two hours a week. Yet, they are not awarded the same benefits. Artemis Ultimate Frisbee holds two practices during the week that last two hours and one on weekends that lasts three hours. If a player decides to go to all three of these practices, they would have exercised for nine hours that week, which is well above the two hour requirement sanctioned by the school.
Additionally, the physical activity of club sports teams is somewhat comparable to that of official sports teams. Both run offensive and defensive drills, practice scrimmages, go to games where they play against other schools and are trained by professionals that are paid by LC. All of these activities are a great form of physical exercise, especially in terms of cardio.
There is one understandable difference between the two sports that could play a role in this issue. The level of commitment required by LC’s club and varsity teams varies. Club sports teams are open to everyone and do not have a required amount of practices that a player must attend. Commitment depends on the individual, which means that someone may go to three practices one week and none the next without any official consequences. For this reason, it makes sense that club sports teams would not count for a PE credit because it would not be fair for people to get a credit for a practice that they did not attend.
However, there is a simple solution to this problem. LC could incorporate a system that holds people accountable to attending practices by documenting who shows up and who does not, similar to pass/fail PE classes. Given that the school only requires two hour-long classes a week for the credit to be gained, students would only need to show up to practice for a total of two hours per week per semester in order to receive a PE credit. This would not be a hard system to enforce and would benefit everyone involved. Club sports would have more people showing up to practice with the added incentive of gaining PE credits, and students who are a part of these clubs could gain credit for physical activity that they enjoy doing.
Ultimately, playing for a club sports team should count as a way to gain PE credits. While there is a difference in the frequency and intensity of practices and required level of commitment among the two groups of teams, there is an easy way to solve this problem. Even if the level of physical activity is less on club sports teams than on official sports teams, club sports meet the two hour a week requirement for physical education classes. I would like to be able to say I am a student athlete and believe myself when I say it. I am a student athlete.