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  #1  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:23 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Why did (do) some students refuse to participate in gym class?

I graduated high school in 1979. From middle school-upwards there was always a sector of students (usually male, but some girls too) that would refuse to participate in gym class. They wouldn't dress for it nor participate in any of the assigned activities. They usually sat in the bleachers while the rest of us ran around, played volleyball/basket ball/soft ball/with our balls, etc..

These weren't handicapped kids, or girls on their periods. These were kids that, at that time of history, we called "fries' "burn outs" "dirt balls", and even, rarely, "greasers".

Both my younger siblings and my own children (the youngest of which is now over 25) have made statements about such people. I remember a couple of guys that couldn't graduate because they did not have the physical education credits.

WTF?

These were not kids I or any of my friends would have anything to do with, so at the time we never got a straight answer as to why participating for an hour 3 days a week in gym was such a huge sacrifice for them to make.

Is this kind of thing still going on? Are YOU one of those kids that refused to dress for gym? Do you know of someone like this?

31 years after graduation I ask:

WHY?

It was an easy A or B if you participated! Even if you sucked as an athlete it was a good grade if you just took part. WTF?
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:25 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Those who can, do.

Those who can't, teach.

Those who can't teach, teach gym.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:33 AM
Green Cymbeline Green Cymbeline is offline
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I have been wondering this myself. Recently, my boyfriend's 14-year-old son, who is in 9th grade, was failing PE. My BF asked the son's mother what was happening, and she said he "wasn't dressing out for PE." She explained further: "Now that he has a friend in sports he got over it. It's hard as you know to transition from middle school to high school. I talked with his coach and he said that it's not an isolated issue and that it's common."

I don't really buy this explanation (I think the mom is just making excuses), because when I was in high school (graduated 1993), it was not an option not to participate in PE -- you would just be failed. As much as I hated PE, I had to do it.

I don't understand why my boyfriend's son would be reticent to participate in PE. I mean, he's not active in sports but he's not fat and has always seemed to enjoy physical activities we've done in the past, so I don't get it.

My boyfriend theorizes it's a self-esteem issue. He remembered that he himself was a "late bloomer" and that it is embarrassing for a teen is isn't fully matured "down there" to change in front of other boys. Anyone else heard of this?

And yes, my BF did ask his son what the problem was and he just got a typical teen answer of "I don't know..."

Last edited by Green Cymbeline; 12-31-2010 at 01:34 AM..
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:45 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyctea scandiaca View Post
And yes, my BF did ask his son what the problem was and he just got a typical teen answer of "I don't know..."
Don't know. We had to start undressing and showering in 5th grade, so the development issue was noticeable but not spoken of. There were 2 boys in 5th grade that already needed to shave. And that was in the very early 1970's.

Overall I was a C+ athlete in most sports. Good in baseball, hockey, and football, but I sucked something insanely fierce in basketball and volleyball. The commies hadn't gotten soccer embedded into the American thought process yet (at least not where I grew up) so we rarely played it at that time. I found "gym" to be an easy grade and a replacement for what we called "recess" in earlier grades. Even the sissy kids that whined about gym participated.

What was the deal with those that refused?
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:47 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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I would not have been allowed to do such a thing "just because" (if you had forgotten to bring your gym clothes, you did gymnastics in your regular clothes, which for grades 4-8 involved a woollen pleated skirt and loafers), but I had several medical problems which at one point even got me "medic'ed" out of gym - that same problem didn't medic me out sooner because it wasn't recognized sooner, the other problems were never recognized. The majority of these problems would not have been visible to a casual observer, although they should have been recognizable to anybody who actually thought about it: equilibrium problems and joint problems linked to an extremely rapid change from thin kid to woman-shaped; glasses with the wrong prescription (I was shortsighted and someone had used a longsighted lens by mistake); once that lens got fixed, glass frames that came apart any time I moved at more than a snail's pace, and I got horribly dizzy without them...

The one that got me medic'ed out was ingrown warts on my foot, also not visible to a casual observer. I did a show'n'tell that grossed all my classmates out when one of them angrily asked why was I allowed to skip gym. I have a scar about 2 inches long and more than half an inch wide in spots, at the height where the gym shoes ended (other shoes didn't usually hurt, since they were higher, but wearing gym shoes hurt a lot), from a row of warts; there was another one in the middle of the heel (on the sole) but that one didn't hurt much and didn't leave a scar. Still, it took over a year and a half of treatment to get rid of the warts and they'd been hurting for about two years by the time a dermatologist saw my foot by chance and gave my mother an appointment for that same afternoon.
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Last edited by Nava; 12-31-2010 at 01:48 AM..
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  #6  
Old 12-31-2010, 02:02 AM
CanvasShoes CanvasShoes is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
I graduated high school in 1979. ...snip.. WTF?
1977 here. I don't know about your HS, but ours had the most GODAWFUL, humiliating, UNFLATTERING mandatory gym uniforms. Unless a girl was a stick, or wealthy enough to have them well-tailored, those things made a girl look like the SIDE of the gym.

Thank goodness they stopped requiring them after about a year into HS, but I'll tell you, there were a lot of girls "surfin' the crimson wave" for a good bit of the month back then.
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:08 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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I refused to do gym classes in Junior High.

Why?

It had nothing to do with physical exercise - I was fit enough.

It had nothing to do with being naked - I had spent my summers in a nudist camp.

It had nothing to do with development (see above, I knew where I ranked).

It had everything to do with being an a locker room without teacher supervision with a pack of bullies.

Why the FUCK would I want to do that? Why make it any easier for them? Not being in the locker room was one less opportunity to be bullied.
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:13 AM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyctea scandiaca View Post
...My boyfriend theorizes it's a self-esteem issue. He remembered that he himself was a "late bloomer" and that it is embarrassing for a teen is isn't fully matured "down there" to change in front of other boys. Anyone else heard of this?...
I'm 25 and nobody ever showered or otherwise got naked after any off my gym classes. Even having both your t-shirt & gym shorts off at the same time was considered "gay". Once in a blue moon some jock would shower after a morning PE class.

I hated PE, especially in high school. I've never been atheletic, or had any kind of interest in sports (even as a spectator). The boys' PE teachers at my HS were horrible (at least as teachers, apparently they were very good at coaching). They did not teach. Depending on the weather their idea of an activity was to either; go outside and play football, or stay inside and play basketball. There was never any actual intruction (I was once told "It's not my job to teach you anything" ), and mostly they'd just do paperwork or go over gameplans without their students played. If it was early in the season sometimes they'd scout new students for talent.

The girls' PE teacher was different. She'd constantly be changing activities, would actually explain things, and could motivate male students without mocking them or attacking their masculinity. Every single time we were allowed to pick which teacher's activity I chose her. My favorites were when just allowed to life weights or use the excersise room instead of playing a sport, but the district "frowned upon that" so it was rare. I also enjoyed aerobics.

I never refused to dress out, or completely refuse participate though. I did skip class alot. Right before class I'd give myself a nosebleed (I was prone to them anyway), have to go to the nurse, and spend the period on a cot in her office. Junior year (when I got to take Health instead of PE) I had my nose cauterized so I couldn't really do that senior year. I lucked out and had PE first period. I managed to convince the secretary I had a sinus problem that caused occasional vomiting in the morning. This enabled me to come in late and miss PE. I probally actually showed up for maybe half of my gym classes that year.

We didn't get real grades in PE. You either got an "S" for Satisfactory or a "U" for Unsatisfactory. It was really hard to get a U. You had to refuse to dress out, skip class (without an excuse), and/or mouth off to the teacher. And you had to do it repeadedly. And nobody ever failed PE for the year. The district simply didn't allow it. I got always got an S. I did curse one of the boys' PE teachers out once, but I managed to get away with it in the end.
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Last edited by alphaboi867; 12-31-2010 at 02:17 AM..
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  #9  
Old 12-31-2010, 02:20 AM
SanVito SanVito is offline
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I don't get this option of sitting it out – when I went to school (left in 88), it wasn't optional – if you forgot your gym kit, you had to use some horrible, pre-war stuff out of a bucket in the changing room. That there was a GREAT incentive to remember your kit. This was an all girls' school, and there were certainly girls who hated it (generally the fat girl, to be honest), but even having your period wasn't going to help, unless it was a swimming lesson. We didn't get graded for it either, it was just compulsory.

This was in the UK, BTW.
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:32 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
I don't get this option of sitting it out – when I went to school (left in 88), it wasn't optional
What were the teachers going to do with a student that absolutely refused? Whip them until they begged for kickball? Remember, per my OP, some of these students didn't even graduate because they didn't do gym.

I don't care what a schools policy was/is.

I want to know WHY these students didn't want to participate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
I refused to do gym classes in Junior High.

Why?

It had nothing to do with physical exercise - I was fit enough.

It had nothing to do with being naked - I had spent my summers in a nudist camp.

It had nothing to do with development (see above, I knew where I ranked).

It had everything to do with being an a locker room without teacher supervision with a pack of bullies.

Why the FUCK would I want to do that? Why make it any easier for them? Not being in the locker room was one less opportunity to be bullied.
You were in a nudest camp when you were a pre/early teenager? Do tell.

What grade did you get in gym then? F?
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:36 AM
Spoons Spoons is online now
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Sitting out our phys ed classes wasn't permitted without a physician's note. Nor was it an easy grade; it was entirely possible to fail gym class in our school.

I will venture this though: some would want to sit out because thay were involved in non-school activities that could easily have taken the place of gym class. In my area, hockey and baseball leagues were popular for boys, and gymnastics was offered to girls through places like the Y. Heck, I myself was a figure skater, practicing three hours a day weekdays and six a day on weekends. But these activities got us no credit at school. So, I was klutzy at basketball and volleyball in gym class, and received a corresponding grade, while I was winning trophies in figure skating outside of the school. What did that C from a high-school gym teacher really mean, when I was getting the equivalent of As in recognized and national-governing-body-sanctioned competition?

It didn't seem fair, and because sitting out wasn't allowed, I dealt with it. Still, I would have liked to sit out and would rather have used the time to study. I wasn't going to miss out on exercise by forgoing forty minutes of chasing a basketball around the gym when I had three hours of figure skating ahead of me after school.
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:49 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
You were in a nudest camp when you were a pre/early teenager? Do tell.
It's pretty off-topic this early in the thread. We had a summer cabin in a very isolated area outside of Lawrence, Kansas. Very family oriented place, we'd pick Morel mushrooms in the woods, raspberries in the patch on the hill, swim in the lake, swing on tire swings...all the normal stuff one would do at a summer camp. We just did it without clothing (we did wear shoes).

Quote:
What grade did you get in gym then? F?
I, for "incomplete". And the dumbshit of a principal punished me for it by not allowing me to learn to program the school's IBM 360 computer.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:15 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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I refused to participate in gym class. It was stupid and puerile and I already got plenty of excercise.* I loathed my classmates and I was never picked to be on any teams for 'team building'. I hated dressing in the hideous gym clothes and walking around the gym for 20 minutes as a warmup, then to do basketball drills or some other stupid shit. I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn I hated (and still do) competitive sports.

Nowadays I say it's just not my thing, but back then I really had no use for it, and was offended that I was forced to participate in something I found useless and boring. The teachers eventually just said "If you dress in your clothes and sit on the sidelines you'll get a C" and I took to sleeping in the bleachers while everyone else paced the gym. Wooo. I actually failed gym one quarter due to me not being there the entire quarter, and I had to make it up. That's when I started showing up and sleeping.

*I rode my bike pretty much every day, and went skiing all the time in the winter. I was also in all the bands in school, which if you've ever set up a band for a gig should know it's a lot of lugging heavy things around. I knew how to be fit.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:16 AM
CanvasShoes CanvasShoes is offline
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Regarding the "how do you fail gym" question. IIRC gym also had an optional health class that could be taken instead of an actual workout type gym class. And/or if you failed gym you had to take summer school, which ended up being a health class. Now that I think about it, I'll bet the volume of girls "forgetting their suit" or "having cramps" and then not participating was the reason those awful things were discontinued.

FTR, when I went to HS, it was what was referred to as a "Secondary School" where 7th through 12th grade students all attended classes in the same building and many of the same classes. So even though I was only in 7th, 8th or 9th grade at the time, the HS girls in my classes were also forced to wear the horrible outfits.

Here's a description of one: http://open.salon.com/blog/robin_eil..._gym_uniform_1

I tried to find a pic, but strangely not one was found (I'm pretty sure I burned mine once they dropped the mandatory gym suit requirement ). Ours were like the ones mentioned above, except they had a horizontal striped top and were this thin clingy jersey material. And they were not clingy in a good way either, they somehow managed to be oddly baggy where you would have liked them to have clung, and too clingy where it was the ULTIMATE in unflattering to your body.

...and (memory is coming back to me now ), we also had different sorts of gym classes like X-country skiiing, hockey and ice-skating, obviously for those we got to wear normal (nice warm COVERING) clothes. So a lot of girls who didn't want to wear the dreaded gym suit would take those classes as their gym credit.
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Old 12-31-2010, 04:37 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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I went to high school in Australia and it just didn't happen here. You participated unless you were sick or injured.

I started a thread years ago about whether the dumb jock cliché is true in the US because it wasn't here. Most of the jocks were the smarter guys. Mind you I was at a safe middle class school.

So no-one lorded it over the non-athletic guys and everyone seemed to have fun and got as involved as they felt comfortable with. Except when we did gymnastics where only one guy had fun. Also no-one showered. There simply wasn't time. Just change back into regular uniform and off to the next class.

Oh I should add there was no grade involved. You just had to do it.

Last edited by don't ask; 12-31-2010 at 04:38 AM..
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Old 12-31-2010, 04:49 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
So no-one lorded it over the non-athletic guys and everyone seemed to have fun and got as involved as they felt comfortable with.
In my experience in the US (Kansas City to be precise) the male gym teachers were King of the Bullies, and dedicated to preserving the vicious traditions of their Bully forefathers. The ones who did not meet their standards should, by tradition, be thrown into the wolf pit.

Frankly, the experience left me with a profound distaste for all organized sports, and a deep-down belief that anyone who claims to have enjoyed gym class must have been a bully.
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Old 12-31-2010, 05:08 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
In my experience in the US (Kansas City to be precise) the male gym teachers were King of the Bullies, and dedicated to preserving the vicious traditions of their Bully forefathers. The ones who did not meet their standards should, by tradition, be thrown into the wolf pit.
East Bound and Down episode 2.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:02 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Originally Posted by nyctea scandiaca View Post
My boyfriend theorizes it's a self-esteem issue. He remembered that he himself was a "late bloomer" and that it is embarrassing for a teen is isn't fully matured "down there" to change in front of other boys. Anyone else heard of this?
Ha! Any boy who taunts another boy with "You have a small dick!" will instantly get asked "Why were you looking?" by everyone else. Trust me, this isn't the problem.

I've honestly never heard of this as the rule at my school was that if you forgot your gym clothes more than twice, you failed. And no one wanted to take gym in summer school because all you did was walk around the track.

Of course, I never understood "Gym is full of bullies!" either as our locker rooms had attendants and the gym teachers were good people. The football coach was a walking macho cliche, but if he saw someone bullying another kid he was quick with the punishment.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:05 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
It had everything to do with being an a locker room without teacher supervision with a pack of bullies.

Why the FUCK would I want to do that? Why make it any easier for them? Not being in the locker room was one less opportunity to be bullied.
Pretty much this, plus the teachers were bullies. They were hard-core Christians who could not understand why some people chose not to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They had no problems using the dressing-room hallway to post their propaganda and class time to advertise their organizations. Those of us who weren't Christian would generally dress out for roll call, then sneak away for the rest of class. Why expose ourselves to these assholes any more than necessary? I got my passing grades and moved on.

The girls also had to share the locker room with the cheerleaders, drill team, band, and athletes. It's very difficult to have any sort of confidence in yourself when you're surrounded by girls who are thinner and perceived as prettier than you are. Believe me, some of those girls demonstrated their "superiority" over us mortals. I'm surprised I was able to dress out, although I remember doing it in a bathroom stall on occasion.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:22 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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I was an uncoordinated klutz in school. Frankly, I'm still not the best but I've improved a lot. They always had very boring or hard exercises; I was awesome at dodging in dodgeball (not so much at the throwing part), but sucked at a lot of other stuff, especially anything involving upper-body strength. Forget pushups, or climbing the rope or pole to the top of the gym.

At least in grade school, we only had satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades. When I got to middle school, it was a letter grade, and our first gym teacher wouldn't give you a C if you just suited up. No, I regularly got a C for trying my hardest (but sucking). This did not make me a happy camper about phys ed, because it was really screwing up my GPA. By the last year of middle school, at least we had a new teacher, and I would get a B+ or so for effort; I think I might have even gotten an A- when she taught an aerobics and weight training class, which I did pretty decent at.

Plus middle school locker rooms, as mentioned, were great opportunities for bullies. I had one popular girl go on and on about how she wanted my autograph because of how 'awesome' I was at doing gymnastics, with her group of friends cackling behind her. The first teacher was a very tough and unsympathetic woman who never seemed to be in the locker room except to make sure we took a shower. It was also a time where the mean girls could scope out who had ugly underwear, who was wearing bulky menstrual pads, etc., and use that for ammunition/mention in the halls/whispering to the cute guy that one of the dorkier girls might have a crush on.

High school at least had more of a variety, but was much the same - I will credit them for grading more on effort, too.

I didn't sit out, except for injury, but I did stop taking them in high school as soon as I was done with the required classes (by senior year).

I actually went out of my way and took elective phys ed in college and grad school, because I got to pick neater stuff. Nautilus training, tai chi, yoga, kendo, fencing. I loved it.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:55 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Maybe the big idea was for fit bodies in sharp minds, but in practice it was about training boys that manhood is a daily battle to prove you're not a faggot.

We were made to play basketball in bad weather, flag football in good. The gym teacher was also the school's coach in both those sports. He was a closeted homosexual who'd not only pat boy's butts, but hold his hand there, up in the crack, while giving them "pep talks." These pep talks were harranges about not being a weak little pussy.

I asked my guidance counsellor to intermediate with the coach, to see if I could run laps while the rest of the class poked and elbowed each other in the groin and face during basketball or flag football. The word came back from the coach that I should come see him and he'd, quote: "make everyting sweet for me." I let the issue drop.

That was over thirty years ago. I run the equivalent of 24 laps day. The guys who I went to school with who are still alive are all fat. Perhaps, subliminally, the former to escape preadatory gym teachers, the latter to make themselves unattractive to them.
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:03 AM
lisalan lisalan is offline
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I HATED gym with a passion. I was very shy in highschool and not into sports at all. I was a straight A student more concerned with academics. I never refused to participate but I only took it for the required number of years. It was my worst subject. I also hated to change in front of the other girls as I was so shy so I used to change in the bathroom. I hated gym....did I mention that?
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:07 AM
Fried Dough Ho Fried Dough Ho is offline
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I graduated High School in '80 and I was one of those girls. Like others have said, it was about being humiliated and bullied.

When I started going to gym class in the 7th Grade, I was mis-took for the teacher because I had breasts. Big ones. All sports was that much harder for me and co-ed gym classes involved running which was more humiliating because it never dawned on my mother to get me a sports bra and being physically active did nothing other than make them flop around that much more. The showers were worse because the girls could then see and report back to their friends they were real.

I joined the band because they changed the rules that marching band time could be substituted for actual gym and for that, I became extremely grateful.
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:52 AM
conurepete conurepete is offline
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Asthma, and teachers who did not understand that asthma is not something you can "run off". It was a lot better to not be involved then to participate until you are sick the rest of the day.
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  #25  
Old 12-31-2010, 10:01 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
It was an easy A or B if you participated! Even if you sucked as an athlete it was a good grade if you just took part. WTF?
Not at my school, it wasn't. I participated, played in every sport during the year as required, but was a terrible athlete. My mark was consistently 51%. I dropped out of Phys Ed as soon as it wasn't required, and left me with a long-standing hatred for organised sports.

My comments on my Phys Ed teacher, Mr. Wotherspoon, are best reserved for the Pit.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:15 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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At my jr. high school (1980s), there was one track for academically "gifted" students, maybe two or three percent of the student body, and the only class we had with the rest of the school was gym. It wasn't the showering or changing, it was suddenly being alone in a group of people who all knew each other and knew that I was not part of the group. There were probably class and race issues that I wasn't clued into at the time, as well; I know I was white and bused in from the suburbs.* I never refused to participate, but it was mostly hostile and unpleasant. It wasn't a matter of participating: I wasn't welcome. When the high school offered to give us PE credit for the time spent on the bus (seriously), I took it.

*It wasn't as clear-cut a divide as other parts of the country: both the local kids and the "gifted" group were all races, and the "gifted" group included some local kids, but the balance was different. Our group was mostly white / Filipino; I'm not sure what the dominant mix was for the school as a whole.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:45 AM
Kiyoshi Kiyoshi is offline
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I refused to participate in PE for the last two years or so of school, simply because I didn't want to do it. Luckily for me, the teacher was happy for me to sit at the sidelines, so long as I was wearing the gym clothes.

I still don't understand what place sport has in school: what exactly are you supposed to be "learning"? The time and resources could be much better spent on something useful, like a first aid class, cookery classes, or musical instrument lessons.

The only argument I've heard for PE is that it's an attempt to tackle childhood obesity. As a former fat kid, I call bullshit on this argument. It only causes embarrassment, and a hatred of exercise which lasts into adulthood.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:49 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Thank goodness it was not mandatory at my school.

I think a lot of good reasons why kids would not want to participate have already been given, so I won't bore you with all that.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:58 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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That's me! We weren't permitted to 'sit out' at my high school in the 00s, but I repeatedly refused to dress properly, and very rarely participated in any way. I would just stand there, only move when the teacher yelled at me. When forced to run I would 'run' as slowly as humanly possible, taking 20 minutes to complete a mile run on one occasion. If forced to participate in team activities I would deliberately sabotage my team or hit the other kids with hockey sticks, etc. I was a big pain in the ass but the other kids seemed to find it amusing rather than annoying most of the time (unless they were the ones I was beaning with my stick). Teachers hated my guts for making their job more difficult but usually my gym teachers were the worst (IMO) and the hatred was mutual.

Disliking gym class began as soon as I was exposed to it in early elementary school. I am not at all competitive, can't fathom caring about sports or who wins or loses, and hated the aggressive way the kids who did care acted. In particular, I hated the way the boys acted - I was always friends with more boys when I was young, and I remember that around 2nd-4th grade most of them turned into real dicks, and gym was the catalyst. It didn't matter that I was the fastest kid in the class in 3rd grade and that I could've (and had) kicked the ass of any boy who gave me lip or made fun of my fat best friend - they all thought I was weak and inferior, just cause I was a girl, and if I proved them wrong they'd go out of their way to be nasty. Around that age I swore off boys, I never had straight male friends in school again.

The only real explanation I have for my problems with gym class and with school in general is that I have a negative attitude about life, and an authority problem. I have never done things just because everyone else does them, or because someone told me to, if I can't find a sound reason why it's right for me personally. School smelled like bullshit to me from day one and I passively resisted with all my might from 1st grade onward. If teachers wanted me to do anything other than sit at my desk and occupy myself with my own interests (I liked to read books of my choosing, draw, and write stories during class) it turned into a power struggle. I was a huge problem for my parents and teachers. But it could have been worse, I was always a very quiet and superficially polite kid and I never got sent to the principal's office or suspended for misbehavior.

I've never been bullied, so that had nothing to do with hating school. Other kids usually thought I was crazy, but funny, and I always had a circle of close friends. I have done a little bit of bullying myself in fact, but only against kids who asked for it by being assholes or tormenting the weak kids in the class, if my memories are correct. I also never drank or did drugs in high school, but I hung almost exclusively with the 'bad' kids at school anyway (then I went home and holed up in my room, or went over to my teetotaling nerd friends houses).

Also, no one changed naked or showered at my school, ever. That would have been hellish - I was about 5 years behind all the other girls in everything but height, and I was intensely private about my body, wouldn't even wear shorts or skirts.

I ended up leaving high school in 11th grade so I don't know if my lack of gym credits in particular held me back. I failed a lot of classes... the only reason I didn't fail every class and get held back multiple grades is that I usually went to class and I always did very well on tests, and on midterms and finals in high school. How well I did in any given class depended entirely on how much of the grade the teacher gave for homework, projects, and participation as opposed to proving I knew the material (I always did).

I guess my attitude towards school, gym class, and sports can be summed up as 'This is stupid... FUCK YOU.' And then I gave the finger to everyone, a lot, mostly while sitting in the corner.

ETA: OP, hope that's an understandable explanation. Some kids are just born bitter and rebellious. I haven't changed much.

Last edited by rhubarbarin; 12-31-2010 at 11:03 AM..
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:58 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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Ha! Any boy who taunts another boy with "You have a small dick!" will instantly get asked "Why were you looking?" by everyone else. Trust me, this isn't the problem.

I've honestly never heard of this as the rule at my school was that if you forgot your gym clothes more than twice, you failed. And no one wanted to take gym in summer school because all you did was walk around the track.

Of course, I never understood "Gym is full of bullies!" either as our locker rooms had attendants and the gym teachers were good people. The football coach was a walking macho cliche, but if he saw someone bullying another kid he was quick with the punishment.
This. I was hardly a jock, but I enjoyed gym. I wrestled, so there was no problem there, but I was (and am) useless on the track. I actually got a "D" one quarter my freshman year because our grade was entirely running. I got it back to an "A" by winning my weight class for the school in wrestling. Then I switched to "Athletics," which was last period of the day for all sports. Swimming, water polo and loafing during the off season. Nobody had any issues with showering after practice, either. This was in the early 70s, and everybody dressed out and showered every day.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:03 AM
DarrenS DarrenS is offline
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Can't help thinking of this quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Seinfeld
"Any day you had gym class was a weird school day. It started off normal. You had English, Social Studies, Geometry, then suddenly you’re in Lord of the Flies for 40 minutes. You’re hanging from a rope, you have hardly any clothes on, teachers are yelling at you, kids are throwing dodge balls at you and snapping towels - you're trying to survive. And then it's Science, Language, and History. Now that is a weird day."
I too hated gym with a passion, but sitting out wasn't an option. I don't know what would happen if someone just sat there and refused like a mule -- probably the same as if you did that in any other class.

The teachers were great -- really enthusiastic about what they did, and very understanding, even for the chronically uncoordinated underachievers like me. No, the problem was, as mentioned above, it was an arena for bullies, where they could really let rip as they wanted. There was one pupil who would bring his dog to gym class (yes, it was a rough school, teetering on anarchy) and throw it at you. Then accuse you of "attacking his dog" and beat the crap out of you. His dog was called "Bully".
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:28 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Those who can, do.

Those who can't, teach.

Those who can't teach, teach gym.
Those who can't teach gym, administrate.
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  #33  
Old 12-31-2010, 11:38 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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In my day you couldn't opt out of gym. But it was bad for some kids.

It was hard to really fail. We had golf one half semester and I came in every day after school for tutorial. The gym teacher said, "Mark you deserve an 'F' but because you came in and tried, I'll give you a 'C'."

I was really, really, REALLY, bad at golf.

Or like Football, I could never throw that stupid ball straight. I still can't. So I'd just say, "Make sure I never get the ball." And everyone on my team did. I just blocked.

I can see how some kids hated it though. Our gym teachers, except for one, were really lame. They would take a team of five for basketball and put 4 guys from the basketball team with the one guy from chess club.

OK obviously this is stupid. How can that one guy ever get to play at all if he's on a team in gym class with FOUR other guys from the school basketball team? He won't get to play. So why bother?

Gym class was a joke in my day. I am all for physical fitness, but it should be actually FITNESS, not just running around aimlessly with a ball. Or playing kickball which only provides the person running the bases any exercise at all.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:59 AM
even sven even sven is offline
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I "dressed down," but I spent most of gym hiding behind equipment or loitering on the far edges of fields.

Why? I got bullied. It wasn't just being called names- people were at points throwing rocks at me hard enough to make black bruises. People would break into my locker and throw my clothes and books under the shower. Games provided a great cover to punch or kick me. It was just hellish. So I'd try to stay as far out of sight as I could, so I wouldn't become a (sometimes literal) target.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post
Of course, I never understood "Gym is full of bullies!" either as our locker rooms had attendants and the gym teachers were good people. The football coach was a walking macho cliche, but if he saw someone bullying another kid he was quick with the punishment.
Now you know that your experiences are not universal.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:08 PM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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I HATED gym class, for the most part. I've never been athletically competitive or particularly good at team sports (though I was OK at some individual things like swimming or gymnastics). And I was shy and bookwormy, and I got bullied a fair bit. The undiagnosed asthma probably didn't help much, either.

I did always participate, and the teachers were decent to me and always gave me good grades because they knew I really was trying, but many of my friends blew off gym class and had to make it up in summer school if they wanted to graduate. I also resented that even if I got an A, it would drag down my GPA because my other classes were all honors and AP, which were weigted for GPA purposes (an extra half-point for honors classes and a full point for AP). In a school where hundredths of a point could significantly affect your class rank, that was a big deal.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:11 PM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Originally Posted by even sven View Post
Now you know that your experiences are not universal.


Thank you Dr. Science, I had no idea there were bullies in high school until just this moment. Especially since I wasn't a giant nerd who was bullied.

Oh wait, I was. And it wasn't anywhere near what people in this thread (or on this board as a whole) have described happening to them everyday. It was annoying sure, but it just wasn't that bad.

I mean honestly, the "woe is me" posturing that half this board does when it comes to bullies is tiring. They really threw rocks at you so hard you came home bruised? Another person had a dog sicced on them in school, in full view of the gym teacher? That's just insanity.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:13 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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I wish I could have opted out. As it was, PE taught me shame and fear rather than fitness and control of my body. Expect me to play a game but not show me what to do? Have everyone line up and be chosen by the team captains, and I was always picked last? What kind of teaching is that?

It didn't help that I was skipped ahead in grade 1 and I was always a year younger, less developed, and weaker than my classmates.

PE was not mandatory after grade 9. I ran as far and as fast as I could to leave it behind. Which is a tragedy, because if the administrartion had just managed to separate the concepts of "physical education" and "team sports", and provided teaching and class groupings geared to physical development and ability, rather than grade cohort, I would probably have learned something and been in better shape!

All I needed was the equivalent of a health club or the kind of gym you pay to go to and use the machines. If there had been coaching for that, with the football and rugby and so on as options, I'd have been a lot happier. But as it was, we couldn't even use the "universal" weight machine unless we were on a team.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:21 PM
Superfluous Parentheses Superfluous Parentheses is offline
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Gym class was stupid and occasionally very obviously dangerous.

I only refused to do the obviously dangerous stuff, but I would have preferred to do without it.

Last edited by Superfluous Parentheses; 12-31-2010 at 12:22 PM..
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:32 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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Originally Posted by Justin_Bailey View Post


Thank you Dr. Science, I had no idea there were bullies in high school until just this moment. Especially since I wasn't a giant nerd who was bullied.

Oh wait, I was. And it wasn't anywhere near what people in this thread (or on this board as a whole) have described happening to them everyday. It was annoying sure, but it just wasn't that bad.

I mean honestly, the "woe is me" posturing that half this board does when it comes to bullies is tiring. They really threw rocks at you so hard you came home bruised? Another person had a dog sicced on them in school, in full view of the gym teacher? That's just insanity.
Really?

I was short, skinny, nerdy, looked funny (had buck teeth, giant glasses, awful hair, and 100% out-of-date hand-me-down clothes), talked funny, and never acted like the other kids growing up. I never got bullied, I just got into fights. I was a tough cookie and I made sure anyone who started shit with me paid for it. Other kids learned quickly I was kind crazy, and that as long as they were civil to me I'd be polite in return, so they were.

But I was friends with the nerds, outcasts, and underdogs in the schools I went to, and best friends for years with the fattest girl in my school. That made me understand very well that kids can do and say unspeakable things to each other and that it's 1000x worse for some kids than others. Just because it didn't happen to me doesn't mean it didn't happen to anyone. Children get physically hurt by bullies ALL THE TIME. The amount of supervision and protection available depends entirely on the school and on your parents. It can be life-destroying (literally, as we can see from the publicized rash of kids as young as 11 and 12 who are attempting/committing suicide because bullying is pushing them over the edge) and it's offensive and ignorant for you to suggest that people lie about how bad it was, just because YOU never went through it.

Annoying, huh. Lucky you.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:42 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Originally Posted by Superfluous Parentheses View Post
Gym class was stupid and occasionally very obviously dangerous.

I only refused to do the obviously dangerous stuff, but I would have preferred to do without it.
Dangerous? What was dangerous?
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  #41  
Old 12-31-2010, 12:51 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Random "bullying can be bad" anecdote: I had a classmate in grade school who was geeky. His family was poor, his mom was an alcoholic, and he got random nosebleeds that provoked laughter from classmates.

He also had a majorly messy desk, to the point that one day, his desktop (those lift-up tops over a metal bin, actually slanted away from him slightly if he wasn't leaning on it to hold it down. The teacher had been on him to clean it out, and that day in the middle of class he was so enraged by this, for some reason, that he physically went over there and pushed the desk over with the kid sitting in it, such that the desk spilled everywhere, plus this boy hit the floor pretty hard. He yelled at the kid and made him pick up his stuff and clean the desk, on the spot.

If that isn't a "it's OK to pick on this kid" signal from a teacher, I don't know what is.


I didn't have to deal with bullying all that much, aside from the few mean girls in middle school. High school wasn't bad at all for me; I had quite a few friends among various groups. But I will not deny that some kids had it very tough.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 12-31-2010 at 12:51 PM..
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  #42  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:28 PM
missred missred is offline
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Not dressing out or participating wasn't an option at my high school (class of '81).

I began public school as a HS freshman and gym was required in grades 9 and 10. I was the fat, slightly athsmatic, mostly uncoordinated, somewhat shy kid in the class. Bullies weren't so much of a factor, but a ninth grade gym teacher who thought we were all USMC recruits was.

She tended to make any girl who wasn't a prime athlete a cause by singling us out when we screwed up or did something less than graceful. She rarely believed that medical notes were legit, but had to acknowledge them nonetheless. As soon as you were back in class, she went after you with a vengence. I had the misfortune of spraining my ankle in late autumn that year and after my two week rest was up, she had me running laps without easing into it. Not only did I re-injure my ankle, but when I went down, I broke my wrist. Wonderful way of teaching me the joy of athletics.

On the other hand, my tenth grade gym teacher tended to look upon her students individually; she had an eye for what you were better at and actually enjoyed and tended to give you a bit of extra encouragement in those areas. From her, I found that I wasn't a bad softball or volleyball player and went on to play in leagues for a few years as an adult. World of difference.

To answer the OP, had I been allowed to not dress or participate, given my freshman year, I definitely wouldn't have.
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  #43  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:37 PM
Rushgeekgirl Rushgeekgirl is offline
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I think mostly for me I was just fat and lazy. Not really fat but super lazy. Our gym teacher was the basketball coach so he had the boys playing basketball while the girls had to run the bleachers for the full period just about every day. The boys always made fun of our bouncing down the bleachers, and the coach would laugh along with the male students. Who, by the way, thought it was hilarious to tug their shorts to the side and show of their treasures when we'd pass by.

I hated gym class, not just the dressing out. I would avoid it at any cost. Everything about it was horrible.
I hated everything about school though.
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  #44  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:48 PM
Ludy Ludy is offline
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I always went to gym, unless I forged a note to get out of it (I got very good at my Dad's signature). I would dress in my gym clothes and do the absolute minimum.

I never liked sports. I don't understand the apeal. I don't understand why people watch other people participating in sports, I just don't get it.

The way my gym class was organized was that there were three teachers and each would run a differnt game. everybody got to choose what game to participate in. If there was an option that wasn't a team sport I chose that every time, and if that wasn't an option that I would try and pick a sport that the jocks wouldn't.

Don't get me wrong, I was an active kid. I was part of the swim club and had dance class three times a week, but I really only did things that were not "team sports".

The problem was that there was always at least one kid on my team that was super compeditive. They would get frustrated and angry if you missed a shot or made any sort of mistake. Actually now that I think of it, I'm one of those people who hate to make mistakes. I prefer working on my own so I can catch my own mistakes and fix them myself. In gym any weakness is open for everyone to see. If I didn't try, then no one would see how bad I was.
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  #45  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:50 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
...All I needed was the equivalent of a health club or the kind of gym you pay to go to and use the machines. If there had been coaching for that, with the football and rugby and so on as options, I'd have been a lot happier. But as it was, we couldn't even use the "universal" weight machine unless we were on a team.
This was why the administration frowned on the gym teachers letting us use any of the excercise equipment during class. Officially it was because we weren't "learning anything", senior year the girls' PE teacher finally admited to me that it was because they wanted to keep wear & tear to a minimum and "save" the machines for the student-athletes.

Usually the only time we got to use them was when half (or more) of the gym was taken over for something else. Never 2 gym classes (class was every other day) in a row. Only once was she able to manage it as an actual activity with sheets to track our progess and timed rotations and such. Which was a shame. Sure class usually turned into social time, but those tended to also be the only classes I'd leave covered in sweat and feeling some sense of accomplishment.

The school did offer a strengh training elective, but that was in addition to (not instead of) regular gym class. And you had to play an afterschool sport to be allowed to take it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by even sven View Post
...Now you know that your experiences are not universal.
Until I found the Straight Dope I had no idea that it was common for students to be left unsupervised in the lockerroom. I just assumed every lockerroom had that glass walled office for the PE teachers and coaches. There was always someone in there in middle school and high school (we didn't dress out in elementary school so that lockerroom was just used as a restroom). Even there when the PE teacher was out sick and the other sex's taught the entire class they'd put someone in there to supervise us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove View Post
...We were made to play basketball in bad weather, flag football in good. The gym teacher was also the school's coach in both those sports. He was a closeted homosexual who'd not only pat boy's butts, but hold his hand there, up in the crack, while giving them "pep talks." These pep talks were harranges about not being a weak little pussy...
(bolding mine)

That was the cause of my only cursing out of a teacher ever. I'm sure he wasn't closeted or a pervert though. He was the oldest PE teacher, chair of the PE dept, and head football coach. He taught one period a day, and I was unlikey enough to have him that period. He did everything short of calling me a faggot or pussy (he would've gotten in huge trouble if he actually did). It was those damn Presidential Fitness Tests. As usual I my performance had been substand. As he repeatedly said I wasn't even meeting "the girls' standards".

Pullups, I couldn't do a pullup. He wouldn't let it slide he kept making me try over and over again in from of a small audience at that station. Finally I did one. He congradulated and as I was walking away he gave me a quick pat on the ass (like coaches do all the time with jocks). Well, I was already pretty pissed at him so I took the oppurtunity to turn around, scream (at the top of my lungs) that he was an f-ing pervert, and if he ever put his f-ing hand on my ass again I'd break his fingers.

Everyone stopped. In the entire gym. The girls PE teacher came running over, 2 teachers that had been in the hallway outside the gym heard and came running in. Everybody just started. Boy, was he pissed. He sent me straigth to the office; I didn't even have a change to change or get my stuff. Naturally our vice-principal was upset that I dared say something like that to a teacher. I kept interupting him and telling him to read the school's policies on sexual harrasment and unwanted touching from the handbook.

His attidude changed. He got downright apologetic and kept trying convince me that "that's not how he meant it" and "the football players do it all the time". Of course I knew all that, hey that class made my life hell every other day why shouldn't I leap at the chance to make his life hell for awhile. The VP desperatly wanted this go away. I ended up getting myself switched out of that class so I had another PE teacher. The VP escorted me back the lockerroom to get my stuff (& also to have "a talk" with him that I wasn't privy to). That teacher never said a single word too me for the rest of HS, but boy did I get the evil eye.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:59 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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As well you should have. That was a pretty shitty thing for you to do. That's a man's reputation and livelihood you were fucking with.
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  #47  
Old 12-31-2010, 02:34 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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Gym class was hell. I was shy, nerdy, and joined a school of 1500 students in hicksville halfway through soph year.

I never changed for class. I forged notes constantly, I skipped and hid when I could.

A girl was raped in the locker room my senior year.

Just because you had a good or even mediocre school, don't assume everyone did.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:02 PM
conurepete conurepete is offline
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Until reading this thread, I had not realized people got graded on participation or effort in gym. We were graded on being athletic, so those of us who did not perform well got the bad grades we deserved for not trying hard. Because the only difference between me and an Olympic athlete is the effort.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:06 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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I have never heard the term "dressing out" to refer to getting changed for gym/PE. I wonder if it's a regional thing, or I'm just that oblivious?

I disliked gym class, because I was (and am) a terrible athlete with (literally) no depth perception, but what bothered me the most was that our teacher was a horrible woman who wouldn't explain the rules but would call penalties anyways (the number of times I got called for being offside in soccer, but with no one ever answering the question as to what offsides WAS...!)

Thing is, I wanted to learn. I knew I sucked, but I wanted to try, and I was never given that opportunity. So it just became an excercise in doing the bare minimum in order not to be blamed for violating some rule you didn't know existed. Also, the boys got to play all the fun games - football, hockey, baseball. Our teacher turned out to be oddly sexist for a woman, flat out stating that "girls don't play these sports" so we were doomed to soccer, kickball and broomball. One time we managed to convince her to let us play baseball with the boys, and after a few boys said "why not teach the girls the rules first?", she got angry and stopped the game and forced us to play another fucking game of kickball while the boys had batting practise instead! Insane.

I played a game of 2 on 2 pickup hockey for the first time in my life a couple of days ago...I sucked, but had a blast. My 15 year old brother in law took a few minutes to teach me a few puck handling and shooting tips, was really patient while I practised, and then we started playing...that's what it should be like!
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:14 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
Dangerous? What was dangerous?
In my experience, quite a bit. Gym in my high school mixed upper- and underclassmen, and we all played together. Gym period also alternated with lab periods. If you were in a regular science class, your gym class would be predominantly kids in your grade. If you were in an honors science class, your gym class would be mostly with kids in other grades who didn't take any science at all. This was the only way to ensure that the gym class sizes were more or less evenly distributed.

I was a very small kid in high school. Aside from one kid with bona fide growth problems, I was the smallest male in my grade quite consistently. I wasn't entirely unathletic and I definitely wasn't bullied. Though I didn't care for team sports in general, I had a great time playing sports among people I was comfortable with.

But gym class my freshman and sophomore years was terrifying. No matter what sport we played, you were going to get thumped by the older, much bigger kids who just hated anyone in honors science. The worst was indoor "touch" football. The goal of the game was to never, ever catch a pass or try to run the ball because if you did, one of the seniors was bound to check you right into the folded-up bleachers. The level of violence was never truly obvious or blatant. These things just "happen" in gym class. By accident.

I did get hurt occasionally, and even fractured both of my hands on separate occasions. Once was in basketball, when one of the seniors unexpectedly passed a ball so hard to me I had to get my hands up in time to keep it from hitting me in the face. I ended up only breaking my hand instead of my nose. There is no doubt he was just fucking with me, since I was about a foot shorter than he was and was standing behind him.

I soldiered through it and just tried to keep a low profile. Things got a little better when I was a junior or senior. Even though I was still quite small, the underclassmen certainly never tried to get physical. It was sad how terrified of us they were, even though the AP science kids weren't going to kick them around. But word travels, and everyone knew what that class was like.

ETA: Gym grades had no influence on our averages, so no one gave a shit what he got in that class. Once I think I got a 66 because I kept forgetting to bring in fresh clothes to change into or some other lame-brained thing like that. I graduated in 96. Who remembers.

Last edited by Maeglin; 12-31-2010 at 03:16 PM..
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