Most don’t care about workouts

The Dec. 22 editorial “Students neglect physical exercise” is eminently annoying for the tired old list of wrong and wrongheaded ideas it repeats.

The statement that “Students need to be required … to do much more physical exercise” practically gave me a conniption. Educators, politicians, physicians, social commentators and newspaper editors must know or must be made to know the truth: For good or bad, most people don’t care about exercise. Period.

Who cares about throwing balls, running 50- or 100-meter dashes, or aerobic exercises like sidestepping? It’s all hokum.

For the most part, students tolerate mandatory physical education in schools until they graduate or have the freedom to choose elective classes. Even so, many students still call “PE” their favorite class because they think it requires the least of them. It is past credible denial that mandatory physical education in school does more to raise young people to despise organized sports and forced participation than it does to motivate those young people who proactively pursue exercise in their lives as a healthy lifestyle choice.

Mandatory physical education is singularly the worst subject in the curriculum. But there’s money in it, especially in America where team sports have become an opiate of the masses.

In a democracy, authority rests with the people and the people have spoken. Furthermore, time is sacred, so I think once the mandatory requirements have been fulfilled — in school, job or life — it is wrong to foist even more mandatory activity on anyone’s time: not organized sports, not club activities, not volunteer activity of any kind. Their mandatory nature effectively robs them of merit; they become a kind of terrorism in the sense that it’s terrible.

grant piper

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • David Varnes

    While I fully understand the point Mr. Piper is trying to state in his letter, I do feel he misses a major point (or more specifically, glosses it over). Health is a major impact player in society, especially one like Japan.

    Now, as an American, I do sometimes feel like I have little room to criticize on a societal level, but I cannot impact America (I don’t live there any more). But, the statistics are clear each and every year. More and more people, Japan and America, are becoming overweight and obese. Obesity places more stress on the body. Stressed out bodies are more susceptible to illness and injury. In addition to the direct cost of such illness and injury such as hospital visits, medicine, etc, there are trillions and trillions of yen each year in “hidden” costs such as missed work, poorly done work, et. al.

    Study after study has shown one simple fact: healthier adults do more, are on average more creative, better workers, and have happier lives than overweight and obese adults. So for a society to not stress physical education and health is in many ways shooting itself in the foot.

    Now of course, I could criticize the method in which P.E. is taught here in Japan (starting with an inordinate amount of focus on variations of running at the expense of most other important motions and functions), but when compared to the societal costs, I guess the question I would ask is, which is more important: P.E., or spending the dozens of hours school students spend (almost yearly) learning about how to cultivate rice? Or the hundreds of hours spend learning how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and other songs on recorders and pianicas?