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High school sports for fun and academic credit

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In Cheatham County, Tenn., a little west of Nasvhille, there are some upset parents now that the school board, on March 1, voted to end the practice of allowing school sports teams to practice during the actual school day, rather than after school. Two of the district’s high schools had done this because of a lack of gym space. But the school board said it needed fourth period back because Tennessee has increased its academic requirements for graduation, and the personnel and students are needed to, you know, teach and study.

This did not go over well with everyone. From the Ashland City (Tenn.) Times:

During Saturday’s community meeting, parents said the athletic practice changes would penalize the basketball players, many of whom are already top academic achievers.

One parent said it appears that the school board is anti-sports and “it is coming through loud and clear.”

Parents believe basketball is being singled out because band can continue to practice during the school day and receive academic credit for the class.

As ridiculous as it might seem for a parent to call any school board “anti-sports” (I’ve never met a school board that fits that description), the sports parents do have a point: why do band kids, presumably in an extracurricular activity, get school credit, why the basketball kids don’t?

Well, sports parents, I’ve looked it up, and it’s because you live in the wrong state. Tennessee, despite bumping up its physical education/health requirements from one out of 20 high school credits to 1.5 out of 22, does not allow athletics or marching band or dance or any other physical activity to be used as a credit-earning substitute.

Your kids would get that exception if they lived in Michigan. Or Chicago. Or, most definitely, Texas, which for the class entering 2010-11 allowed athletics (and marching band) to substitute for four out of five elective credits, up from two.

In many cases, the students getting the credit for those activities might be able to hit the weight or practice room while the other PE class is happening. That’s not an all-bad thing. You wonder if there are kids who are getting more out of PE class because Moose isn’t in the way, hogging the ball and the glory and beating the snot out of nerds. In many cases, the kids out of PE for sports purposes may — gasp — get to take another, perhaps more valuable class.

Cheatham County parents, if you want you kids to get academic credit for their athletic activities, you state allows only one venue: Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. In my cursory view, it looks like there is a military substitute for PE pretty much everywhere.

If it’s any consolation, Cheatam County parents, the new academic requirements will include a half-credit for a personal finance class. So if they can get in a gym long enough for a burgeoning pro career, they won’t go the monetary way of Antoine Walker.

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