Local Views: Why limit credit opportunity to athletes?

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Andrew Beaumont
Thursday, December 5, 2013

So the Janesville School District is considering giving a physical education credit to high school students who compete in extracurricular sports.

It doesn't seem like a big deal, and in some ways it makes sense.

Does the varsity quarterback need to spend two or three weeks playing flag football?

Should a high-flying volleyball player be on the same court as those still learning the basics of bump, set, spike?

But why limit this concept to just extracurricular sports?

What about forensics, the theater, engineering club and similar after-school activities?

Don't get me wrong. I love sports.

I have played in city softball and basketball leagues for nearly all of my years in Janesville, and I have helped coach the Janesville Lacrosse Club at the high school level for a number of years. I might not be the best athlete, but I still get out there and give my all.

It'll be a sad day when the time comes for me to hang up my sneakers. I'll miss the competition and the camaraderie of those I play with, play against and coach.

But if we're going to give student-athletes consideration and credit for their extracurricular work, then we should do the same for those teens who participate in other activities.

As a member of my high school's speech and debate team, I learned how to see both sides of an argument. It taught me how to formulate my thoughts and how to express those thoughts to others. It gave me confidence to stand and speak in front of groups of my peers as well as my superiors.

While active in the theater and music department, I learned how all roles are key to a production—whether on stage or behind the scenes as a member of the sound and light crew. One wrong note, forgotten line or misplaced piece of the set can mar an otherwise perfect show.

Members of the engineering club are doing more than just building a Rube Goldberg machine. They are learning about problem solving and critical thinking. They discover that there are many different ways to solve a problem, but that some are more efficient than others.

Many other clubs and organizations take up time before and after school for Janesville high-schoolers.

If our student-athletes will receive credit for exercising their muscles after school, then shouldn't our students who exercise their brains after school receive the same credit?

Andrew Beaumont is design editor for The Gazette; email abeaumont@gazettextra.com.

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