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Letters to the Editor

Club sports should get PE credit

I am a member of the wrestling team — the same wrestling team which was recently featured in The Tech’s three-part series on the status of the varsity sports that were cut in 2009 and later able to be reinstated as club teams. Besides losing our team locker room, access to athletic trainers, and having reduced access to facilities, one other consequence of losing varsity status is that we no longer get P.E. credit for participating.

Even though I am only a freshman, from what the coaches and upperclassman have told me, our practices are the exact same intensity as when we were varsity, and our practice schedule is also the same. Despite being a club sport, we still have practice every day during the season and we still go to almost all the same competitions — including those pitting us against Division III opponents. I would argue, and I am sure that any other wrestler would agree, that our practices are amongst the toughest of any sport at MIT, club or varsity. Yet the administration refuses to give us, or any other club, sport P.E. credit.

I may be misinformed, but I am under the impression that the P.E. requirement was made in order to keep students active and physically fit. Not surprisingly, varsity athletes are granted P.E. credit. This makes sense, because competing in varsity sports is a large commitment and is physically demanding. But it is also a seemingly arbitrary cut-off; even though the wrestling team’s practices are exactly the same as when we were varsity, and we still compete against Division III opponents, we no longer get P.E. credit simply because we don’t have the label of “varsity.” Why should it matter how students are getting their exercise, as long as they are doing something? What should determine whether or not certain activities get P.E. credit is how physically demanding they are, not whether they are varsity, club, or even intramural.

Defining what is “physically demanding” enough is not an easy task, and determining if a given activity meets the criteria is extra work which the DAPER administration should not have to bear. But I think there is a middle ground which represents an improvement of the current system. Considering that P.E. classes such as Archery and Stress Management/Yoga offer students P.E. credit with little or no actual physical exertion, it is not unreasonable to ask DAPER to come up with criteria for whether an independent activity such as a club sport, intramural sport, or dance class can qualify for P.E. credit. They can require that the activities have a minimum time commitment, but the rest of the responsibility can and should fall on the students.

Students who want P.E. credit for their club sport or other independent activity should be responsible for signing up for the program and for submitting weekly reports of their physical activity. If necessary, it could be required that students have an authority figure in their program to sign off on their weekly report.

Hopefully, we can start a dialogue between DAPER and the student body which could, hopefully, result in P.E. credit for club sports, and possibly offer a general alternative means to fulfill the P.E. requirement. I do not only speak for the members of the wrestling team or the other cut varsity sports when I say that the current exclusion of club sports is unfair and ought to be changed.

Sam Shames ’14