Have P.E. showers ever actually been mandatory?

Yeah, God forbid kids should be active at any point during the day.

Showers have just recently become non-mandatory at Norwegian schools, though I think the littlest kids have always been exempt. Funny thing, though: they weren’t required after outdoor gym classes. I guess the idea was that showers wouldn’t always be available after outdoor gym classes, but it still seems backwards. When do the kids work up more of a sweat: running around playing football on a sunny spring afternoon? Or standing around in a cold gymnasium one winter day watching the teacher demonstrate the proper use of gymnastics equipment?

Flodjunior’s school strongly encourages the kids from third grade up to shower, but doesn’t force a child who is reluctant.

One of the schools I went to (Catholic elementary school) had no shower facilities, so of course we never showered. The public elementary school I attended for a few years did have them, but the gym teacher told us whether we were allowed to shower, required to shower, or not allowed to shower on a daily (and as far as I could see arbitrary) basis. In high school we had terrific shower facilities, and the boys’ gym teachers made the guys use them after every gym class, but we girls were never given enough time to shower in any gym class I ever attended.

Oh, and all aspects of a kids’ life should be supervised and mandated by institutional authorities, right? I don’t consider junior high students to be kids to the point that they require institutionalized physical activity. School ends early enough in the day that they can get exercise under their own motivation or their parents urging. Not that schools were ever any good at organizing healthy, non-humiliating physical activity anyway.

“Oh, and all aspects of a kids’ life should be supervised and mandated by institutional authorities, right?”


Of course not. They should be encouraged to sit on their increasingly fat asses all day until they die of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and terminal carpal tunnel syndrome from playing video games.

I played high school football through the late '70s and early '80s, and it amazes me that anyone would not want to shower after working out. I’m not passing judgement. I just find the idea of not showering after working out to be… different, not good or bad.

Everybody on the team showered after workouts, but I have no idea if it was required. Of course, we were soaked with sweat (and covered in dirt if it wasn’t freezing outside.)

Once in gym class someone left their locker unlocked so we all had to pay the price of course. We were forced to stay in the showers for the whole fifty minute P.E. period. Talk about humiliating.

Showers, many moons ago, used to be required at my high school. We’ve got huge shower rooms in the locker rooms of the older gym (same deal at one of my middle schools, too). They still work, but we’re forbidden from using them. No one would want to, because…getting completely naked in front of a class of thirty other people you don’t know very well? Eeech.

Also - how long did you have for gym class? All our classes are 43 minutes long. We’re given about 12 minutes, total (which is never enough) to change before and after class. That leaves us with a half hour for actual gym, and part of that is taken up with attendence, getting organized, etc. I’m assuming they gave you more than five minutes to shower and change? Also, girls, did you have to wash your hair, too??

Yep, from 7th through 12th grade. We were given a number at the beginning of the semester, and it had two purposes. First, it was for attendance purposes; at the beginning of class, after we had changed, we stood in line and sounded off our numbers. If the teacher didn’t hear your number, you were absent. Then, after class we’d take showers, and you’d have to sound off your number when exiting the showers, or you’d get docked points from your grade for missing showers (at least, I guess that’s what happened. I don’t remember anyone actually skipping the showers).

My thinking on the subject is this (and it’s pretty much been the same since 8th grade, so it’s not like this is my wiser, older self’ opinion only)-whatever reason a kid has to be embarrased in the showers, adding BO to the mix is never going to help. And anyway, you’ve never seen so many eyes forward than you did in the locker room-no one wanted to be “the guy who was checking the other guys out”. Likewise, there was never any discussion of what another guy looked like naked, for the same reasons.

So, in my case at least, the one thing I could be sure about not being made fun of was what I looked like naked. Athletic ability and BO were another story altogether, though.

Showers were manditory in my junior high gym classes in 1971-1974. We had a pretty sadistic gym teacher too – he threatened to paddle you if you dodged the showers, and seemed to enjoy it more than was wholesome.

Count me as another ‘gym-class-was-hell’ vote. My biggest complaint was the lack of explanation of the games. Most kids knew how to play basketball, but if you didn’t, then God help you. I would ask what I’d done wrong when the teacher would blow the whistle on me. He’d never say, but would roll his eyes and invariably make the symbol for what I later learned was ‘walking’.

I got to be pretty athletic later (karate and bodybuiilding), but I’m still pissed about those stupid classes. I better calm down. Maybe I should pit that gym teacher?

Better yet, maybe I should locate him and kick his ass? Shouldnt be too hard – he must be getting up there in years. Then again, so am I.

Showers were mandatory, and I’ll add another vote to the gym was hell group. I was skinny, small and unatheltic. Strangely the part that I was supposed to be embarrassed about was the only part of my body I WASN’T embarrassed by. Thank the gods for that at least. I remember getting a lot of funny looks later and the bullying toned down after that too. Still, I wish I could have had a shower facility with a dividing wall. I feel that that would have cut down on a lot of the problems if you had that little bit of privacy.

Not mandatory-I was lucky. The only time we ever used the showers was after swimming-and then I WANTED to get in the showers! We were all dying to get in and get WARM and to wash the chemicals out of our hair. (They used something other than chlorine, I forget what it was-bromine?)

BUT we were all wearing out bathing suits. Yes, in the showers.

But our male gym teacher used to stick his head in the door of the shower room (which was right by the pool) and tell us to turn off the water if we were in too long. Yeah, like I said, we had our bathing suits on, but what a pervert!

I don’t remember learning anything in gym class, other than to hate physical activity. As for working up a sweat-we rarely ever did. And that was only during the hated mile run, after which a lot of people would puke. And fail.

I hate gym. Gym class was evil.

The American Civil Liberties Union threatened to bring a school district to court over this matter several years ago.

From the New York Times:

“Students who dreaded showering at school got a boost two years ago after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to file a lawsuit in federal court over a mandatory shower policy in Hollidaysburg, Pa”

The plaintiff’s attorney even addressed the stinkiness issue:

“Unless the student is drawing flies,” said David Millstein, the lawyer in the case, who represented a shy, overweight girl who felt humiliated in the showers,“it’s none of the school’s business.”

Games? Our 7th grade gym teacher’s idea of teaching sportsmanship was to put 30-40 kids into a room measuring about 20x30, dump 20 volleyballs in the middle and let the mayhem begin. Ever been hit in the face by a volleyball thrown by some low-browed knuckledragger? Man, I could launch a rant and a half, but it’s inappropriate for this forum.

Sure do see a lot of anger in this thread, and it really dredges up a murderous rage in me, I can tell you.

Our fifth grade class went swimming every day for a week (this was in 1982). The first day, after we got out of the pool, the other boys and I went into the men’s locker room and only then realized that we would have to strip off our suits in order to get back into our school clothes. After a few moments of stunned silence, one of the boys said “what the heck?” and kicked off his trunks. Everyone else pretty much followed after and we didn’t worry any more about it.

Sixth grade was another matter entirely. At the end of P.E., everyone had to take a shower. I don’t know how things worked in the girl’s locker room (a fact I much lamented), but in the boys’ room the coaches stood outside the shower area and handed out the towels. They told us that not taking a shower (and they would find out) was grounds for disciplinary action. The head coach was a former drill sergeant. When he spoke we believed him. Not that anyone seemed to object anyway. I don’t remember anyone complaining, even privately.

Grades 7-12 were more relaxed. You were expected to take a shower after P.E., but not forced. Just about everyone did, as I recall.

I think that, by and large, far more negative attention would have fallen on most people for refusing to shower than they every would have encountered for going through with it. This is especially true of guys, who are very suspicious of other guys looking at them in the buff. Anyone with a poor endowment only had to reply “so why are YOU looking anyway?” if someone commented on it. The underlying homophobia of male society made for a powerful weapon against “dick inspection.”

In all the years I had PE (6-10), no one in my class showered. It wasn’t even expected. I don’t remember any problems with people smelling horrible afterwards either. As for changing out of our swim trunks, we wrapped towels around our waists and then stripped from there. I remember asking my older brother how exactly to do this. I was a nervous kid.

And for athletes with after school games and practices, why not take a shower in the comfort of your own home instead of putting up with the school showers?

Time? Oh, that was the fun part. We had about 10 minutes to change into our gym clothes after the time class had officially begun, though the coach was usually late meandering down to the gym and unlocking it so we could get in. Then we had about 40 minutes, though it wasn’t strictly regimented and they’d usually lose track of time. Then it was however-long-was-left to hustle into the changing room, strip, run through the shower, dry off as fast as humanly possible, redress, then get to the next class. Which was quite a distance away in the main building. And we had to stow our P.E. clothes in our locker, so we’d have to go to our locker, too, and shove the gym clothes in, then scramble up the stairs and get to class. With all the walking/running in the heat, we just wound up being sweaty anyway.

At my high school, we just used deodorent and that took care of most of the stinky problems.

There were showers in the changing room, but no one used them. From the looks of them, No one had used them in years. We always dared each other to step into them, but there were never any takers. The only real use they had was as an excellent addition to the haunted house we had down there every year. Showers echo so well, you know.

Yes we HAD to take showers. Our Gym Coach would watch us go in and we had better be wet when we came out. He would even “instruct” us how to dry off. And it wasn’t just him, if you had a different coach next year same routine. (BTW you always DRY off at the top of your head down because if you start at the bottom the water on your hair will drip down and re-wet you.)

I can’t understand why they just don’t put dividers in? It can’t cost THAT much more. Also gym classes were a joke. Kickball? How much exercise do you get? Softball? Yeah Right – the only person exercising is the guy running the bases.

I had only one coach my last year was Co-ed. She TAUGHT us how to play tennis. We even took a written test on the rules. That was a good teacher. Everyone else just batted the ball over the net for an hour.

I think PE is useless as it is now. We’d be far better off eliminating it and substituting an arobics type class or weight lifting (over 15 years) instead. That way young people would GET actual EXCERCISE.

In jr. high I loved gym class, except for the mandatory shower. Prepubescent 12-year-olds don’t smell that bad–except in our case, AFTER the shower. Yes.

We had to wrap up in towels and appear before the gym teacher with water glistening on our backs to prove we’d showered. Then we had to put the towels in our lockers–or they would be confiscated. So the towels smelled horrible and moldy–of course we took them home to wash every week, but this was in Oklahoma, which is humid, so they didn’t last long. Ugh, what a smell.

And I don’t recall ever actually getting sweaty in gym class. I don’t recall anyone ever actually getting sweaty. (Girls, I mean. The boys had to run around the gym and up and down the bleachers. I suppose they got sweaty.)