When Will PE Become Physical Education?

Childhood obesity is winning the war! Really? That's news?

Childhood obesity has reached alarming rates globally and become "an exploding nightmare," a World Health Organization commission said recently.

Now that is news!

"What's the big message? It's not the kid's fault," commission co-chair Peter Gluckman told reporters.

The kids' fault?

Biological factors, inadequate access to healthy foods, a decline in physical activity in schools and the unregulated marketing of fattening foods are among the drivers of a worsening epidemic that requires a coordinated global response, the report said.

Wait, what? "A decline in physical activity in schools?" Puhleeease! Are you kidding me? There has never been physical activity in schools that could be considered a contributor to eliminating obesity.

I'm making a bet with anyone that if you asked 1,000 former students if they thought PE was a valuable subject in school and that it could be worthwhile in helping them stay healthy - I'm saying 994 people would say no.

Having my degree in physical education, allow me to offer the following scenario in which a conversation with former PE students that might sound like this:

So how did you like PE in school?

Former PE student #1: "Are you kidding me? When we got to class, we went outside for 30 minutes and the PE teacher told us to play kickball as he read magazines in his office. What a waste."

Do you think PE in school helped you get healthy?

Former PE Student #2: "It was one of the most humiliating, dumb experiences of my life. When we got to a class, if it was once a week, for 45 minutes we had to change to gym clothes, I guess to make it look good. But no sooner had we gone to the gym than the class was over. Half the kids stood over in the corner as the other half played dodgeball."

Now I know I'll get some flak from a few PE teachers. And yes, I do realize that there are some really dedicated ones out there who will say, "Hey, it's not our fault. The administration treats us like second-class citizens." And they are right. Because of "testing" demands, school administrators put PE at the bottom of the pyramid and today many schools don't even offer PE.

So what's the solution to the obesity crisis and how can PE truly become physical education? Why not do exactly what the words "physical education" mean? Instead of having the silly PE curriculums of today, why not have kids learn about the physical body and how diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle can lead to a life of good times. Or, how not doing so can lead to serious medical problems like diabetes, cancer, etc.

Oh, I hear people saying that that's what health class is about. Health is one thing while physical education in this century should be a motivational force to allow kids to see the value in playing sports, keeping active and, most of all, the dangers of not doing so.

Since almost every school offers sports programming year round, why not make it a requirement that every student must sign up for a sport each season. They don't have to be varsity material. They just need to play in an organized sport after school.

Ok, I hear all the excuses why schools can't do that. But just remember the opening line of this article - Childhood obesity has reached alarming rates globally and become "an exploding nightmare."