Everything I Ever Learned Wasn’t in Gym Class

“Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

I remember gym. Refuge of the sadist. Dodgeball – always offered as a special treat. It was against the rules to hit someone in the head; nevertheless a grinning idiot coach would mock reproof some jock as my glasses went flying through the air, separated from my face by a hard pink ball: “Jonesy – you’re outta there! Haha, you oughtta know better. Bard, you OK? That didn’t hurt, knock it off.” I never met a gym teacher who could pronounce my last name.

Does anybody hold the illusion that students are being educated in phys-ed? Those who already know how to throw a ball, or shoot a basket, or set up a half nelson, do well. Those who don’t are unlikely to learn. Seriously – they’re cutting music and art classes but gym is still required. (Is there a secret, powerful phys-ed lobby?)

In order to pass ninth grade gym, I had to swim four laps of the pool, using a different stroke for each. Coach would walk alongside as I struggled along, stepping on my fingers when I reached for the edge. Diving was another problem – I couldn’t make myself go into the water head first. Coach had great fun with that, forcing me to repeat the same awkward splash time after time. “I can’t believe you’re not getting this!” (I eventually learned to swim when a cook at the summer camp I worked at decided to teach me. Thank you Karen, wherever you are.)