Physical Education Waivers Make No Economic Sense


Here’s an excellent example of politicians not understanding the benefits of physical education – cutting physical education as a way to reduce costs, but penalizing the taxpayer millions of dollars as a consequence.

The Ohio legislature, which currently requires only one-half of a PE unit for high school, has further softened this requirement by allowing school districts to waive the PE requirement for students who participate in two years of varsity sport, cheerleading…or band!

Well, unless it’s a marching band, there’s not much fitness involved in playing the flute. And more to the point, neither band, cheerleading nor varsity sports are as effective as PE in developing the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a healthy lifestyle throughout the lives of their students.

That’s because it’s possible for students to participate in varsity sports, yet gain an incomplete skill-set for maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout their adult years. A good physical education class develops the skills needed for lifetime fitness: the eye-hand coordination and familiarity with racquet sports needed for a  XC runner to play badminton or squash; the nutritional knowledge needed for a football lineman to maintain his body weight after this playing days are done; the confidence needed for a former wrestler to attend an aerobics class or a soccer player to join a golf-club.

It’s possible for a former swimmer to end up working in a town that has no pool, but has tennis courts available. An ex-basketball player may not have time to play hoops but could fit in a jog…if she knew how to approach it without causing injury. Both would benefit from the knowledge about health, flexibility, fitness and nutrition that PE classes provide.

The irony is, the cost of inactivity in Ohio is estimated to be $3.3 billion per year!!! Statistics show that almost 2/3 of Ohio adults are overweight or obese and only 47% of Ohio adults get a sufficient amount of physical activity.

And the Ohio legislature thinks that eliminating PE jobs will save money? In fact, good economics indicate that they should be INCREASING the numbers of qualified physical educators and mandating daily physical education. That’s a measure that would save the taxpayers millions of dollars!


1. Elin Walsh, “Falls Schools weigh means of saving, making more money.” Cuyahoga (Ohio) Falls News-Press, March 22,  2009,


2. Ohio’s Physical Activity Plan,  2009



Dick Moss, Editor,

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