By: Laurel Comiter
As an incoming freshman, I thought that I could finesse the Gunn system and get away with a year-long prep instead of physical education (P.E.) by being on a school sports team for all three seasons. This, however, only proved how unschooled I was. Blinded by the new concept of a prep—having 75 minutes of free time in the middle of the day—I never realized what I was actually giving up.
When I joined the water polo, basketball and lacrosse teams, I failed to recognize the time commitment that playing all of these sports would entail. I justified the long hours of after-school practice by convincing myself that a prep during the day would make up for lost time. It only took a few weeks for me to realize that a 75-minute break three times a week did not balance out the two hours that I gave up for sports every day after school. For example, during the water polo season, I was working out much more intensely than I ever had before, and I was eating both a pre-practice and a post-practice dinner. In the end, my sport took up even more than the two hours per day I originally thought I was sacrificing.
Sports teams also became increasingly demanding as the seasons progressed; in addition to the scheduled practice times, I also had to allot time for getting ready, getting to a location and resting after particularly tough workouts.
Although I always believed that I’d spend my preps wisely, this generally did not happen. When a free period between classes came around, homework was the last thing I wanted to do. My prep period primarily consisted of hanging out with other people on prep, basking in the freedom of an open campus by biking to Starbucks or napping. There were still times when I actually finished my homework and had a stress-free, homework-free afternoon, but for the most part I did not use my prep to my advantage— undermining the entire goal of having a prep in the first place.
An additional factor I failed to consider before getting involved in a sport was the financial commitment. Joining sports can become very costly over time from the money spent on equipment and donations, whereas all of the equipment needed for P.E. is free to use and paid for by the school.
By participating in sports purely for the prep, I also missed out on countless opportunities to try out sports in P.E. class that I will probably never be exposed to again. After I graduate, I will be entering the real world where I may not have the capability or time to play pickle ball, king-of-the-court volleyball or four-goal soccer.
As I look back on my high school athletics career, I realize that despite the great times I had with my teams, I still had to give up countless opportunities to make memories with my classmates. P.E. is one of the only classes where you get a truly hands-on experience working with others; unlike sports teams where the ultimate goal is always to bring home another win, P.E. is a place where you can gain camaraderie, learn to work with groups of people with all different kinds of skill sets and where everyone is constantly maintaining a positive environment.
Although a sizable portion of my prep periods were at least partially put to good use, the time I dedicated to work was not even close to the time I could have had if I didn’t play so many sports. Not only did I have to schedule around several hours of practice and games, but I forfeited chances to make memories with my classmates and participate in activities I would usually not gravitate towards, and will likely never get a chance to try again. If I could go back and tell my naive freshman self one thing, it would be to take advantage of the opportunities P.E. would have presented to me.