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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Bull

"It's more than JUST Sport"

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

“It’s just sport!”

In my time teaching Physical Education, I have heard this saying (or variations of) more times than I would have liked. I have delivered workshops to general classroom teachers and spoken about the importance of PE – and seen many eyes roll. Even the Physical Education teacher I took over from years ago had a rotation of two sports – dodgeball and tee ball – and that was it… for the whole year!

Sadly, there are a lot of Physical Education programs out there that exist like this and I think it is good to remind ourselves sometimes that we teach Physical Education, not Sport Education. Sport Education aims to teach skills that can be obtained through experience and practise of a sport. Physical Education is a combination of sport and physical activity altogether, as it is the education of sport, its benefits and health related issues that are entwined.

Physical Education is important and if you are reading this, chances are you think so too. Like me, you probably feel it is the most important subject… but we will not preach that to other classroom teachers or principals 😉

My favourite part of teaching PE is the real-life experience it gives students. Kids learn so many skills in this class that they cannot get elsewhere. In what other class do you see students fall so hard you think they may have broken a bone – yet still get up and try to play? That is called resilience. In what other class do you see a student set a goal and keep trying and working to beat that goal? Sometimes there are even tears – and that is OK. That is called persistence. I could go on and on. Is this still just sport?

Today’s world is operating a little differently in case you haven’t noticed. I see the PE teacher’s job role as significant in helping our students release from the stresses of the world – especially now. We are not just teaching students skills in games, we are teaching them valuable skills they will carry with them for life. This is called Physical Literacy. One of my favourite articles I have ever read was from a hockey parent about why they pay for hockey. Here is an excerpt:

One of my friends asked, "Why do you pay so much money and spend so much time running around for your son to play hockey?"

Well I have a confession to make: I don't pay for my son's hockey. Or his skates, pads, helmet, and uniform. Or his ice time, clinics and camps. So, if I am not paying for hockey, what am I paying for?

- I pay for those moments when my son becomes so tired he feels like quitting but doesn't.

- I pay for the opportunity that my son can have and will have to make life-long friendships.

- I pay for the chance that he may have amazing instructors that will teach him that hockey is not just about a game but about life.

- I pay for my child to learn to be disciplined.

- I pay for my son to learn to take care of his body.

- I pay for my son to learn to work with others and to be a proud, supportive, kind and respectful team member.

- I pay for my child to learn to deal with disappointment, when he doesn't get that score he hoped for, or fell during a breakaway he has practiced a thousand times, but still gets up and is determined to do his BEST next time...

- I pay for my son to learn to make and accomplish goals.

- I pay for my son to learn that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and practice to create a champion, and that success does not happen overnight.

- I pay so that my son can be in the rink instead of in front of a screen...

I could go on but, to be short, I don't pay for hockey; I pay for the opportunities that hockey provides my child to develop attributes that will serve him well throughout his life and give him the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen for many, many years, I think it is a great investment!

I’ve used variations of this as a poster in my PE classroom and it has sparked amazing conversation amongst students, staff and parents. As PE teachers, I believe we aim to install all the values into our students that are spoken about in this article. Is it still just sport?

This blog and article are warm and cosy so far, but some teachers and principals might not be sold yet; they love their data and research.

Well, in Australia, the University of Canberra and the Australian National University have teamed together to perform one of the biggest longitudinal studies ever conducted in that country. Its main objective is to determine how physical activity and early physical education impact upon quality of life not just in childhood and adolescence but right through a lifetime. The study began in 2005, was assessed in 2013 with the next measurement phase being conducted in 2020.

The early research findings so far have concluded:

· Specialised PE improved numeracy and literacy between grades 3 and 5

· Specialised PE reduced percent body fat between grades 3 and 5

· Specialised PE reduced LDL cholesterol between grades 2 and 6

· Specialised PE reduced insulin resistance between grades 2 and 6

There you go principals.

As PE teachers we know all this information. We don’t need data; we just need to have a class of students in front of us and an energy to give them the best educational experience possible… because to us and our students it’s more than just sport.

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Great post. Wow, 2 sports for the whole year... those students must’ve mastered throwing by the end of the year!

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