Like many geeky non athletic type people, I hated gym. Add social awkwardness, thanks Aspergers, thanks, being shy to go with that lack of athletic ability and the schoolyard pick really diminishes one’s self esteem. I hated dodge ball the most, but that is another topic for another day.
Today I am going to raise my suggestion for an alternative to gym at the high school level, or at least somebody do a good video series (more on that later). I think it is important to keep gym part of the daily routine in primary/elementary school and middle school, more on those later, but in high school where you should only need 2 years worth to graduate, I think it is time to add alternatives beyond the regular gym that everyone can take. You can take 2 years of regular gym, or 3 years of the coming suggested alternate classes, or split it, 1 year of regular gym and 2 of the alternates, so there is a bonus to taking regular gym in that it takes less time.
Now the primary class that is offered and highly suggested to everyone, even those going the regular gym route, is “Generalized Sports Education”. This class teaches the basics of most major televised sports. You learn the basics of the major US sports, (American Rules) Football, Baseball, Hockey, Golf, etc. You learn the basics of the positions and how the leagues are organized (more on that in a bit). You learn the basics of the major Olympic sports. Then you also learn the basics of major International sports such as Soccer (AKA Football to the rest of the world), Cricket, Rugby, perhaps Australian Rules Football and a few others here and there. You also learn the basics of how the leagues are structured, for example in American Football the team that has the worst season gets top draft pick, while in Soccer over in England, the three worst teams get relegated down a league while the three best in that lower tier league move up, which means more local teams. One could also briefly touch on the revenue sharing plans the leagues have, and why the NFL seems to work so well compared to MLB. At the very least you come away with the basic understanding of the rules, the positions, and what is going on when you see it played.
Figure an average class length of 50 minutes, at 5 days a week or about 180 days, that is a lot of time to learn the basics. I am not 100% certain what is tested or not. The class should be an easy B at the very least so long as you show up, participate, do any homework and at least attempt to pass the tests. So perhaps the tests count for less of the grade than the rest… anyhow… the idea is to get students familiar enough with the major sports in the US and around the world that they can watch the sports on the TV, even when traveling, and know what is going on. The goal isn’t to make them a sports geek or know the full history of the sport and the players, but to know when good/bad plays are made, to be able if in a sports bar, participate with the crowd that is in into it. It is also a goal to gain knowledge of international sports like Soccer, Rugby and the like to raise their level of understanding in the US. It may not do much to raise the popularity of smaller sports, but it may at least help people understand what is going on.
The class would likely start with American Football and Baseball, expand to Basketball and perhaps Hockey, then Soccer and on from there. While American rules Football may come from soccer to some degree, I think the fact that it is so prevalent in American culture makes it easier to start from there and explain the differences using Football as a base… same with Baseball and Cricket…
At the very least somebody should make a really good video series on YouTube about it. With a YouTube series of 10 to 20 minutes or so an episode, it isn’t going to go in as much detail, but something would be nice… already fans of the sports attempt to explain, but the goal of this series would be to have a single source to get one’s basics in. Some of the really big major sports (soccer, football, baskeball, baseball, etc) may take a couple or few episodes to explain, while others may just take up part of one (it may be ignorance on my part, but I am thinking the basics of Diving for example probably could fit in an episode about Swimming related sports all together)… actually I think I know who may be a good idea for this… I’ll tweet them this post… EDIT: Tweeted it to @realjohngreen & @hankgreen… darn tweet length made it hard to grab attention… anyhow… I suggested it they do it as part of their CrashCourse series… Just because I am a nerd/geek doesn’t mean I don’t want to understand the basics of sports, and I don’t think I am alone in that and wanting that understanding to come in a nice enjoyable way.
Anyhow, other classes would concentrate on more specific “recreational” sports like bowling, billiards (perhaps golf) and the like… not all 36 weeks of just one, but covering a few of them.