Today's High School Students - Fit or Fat?
Fit or fat?
So, let me ask you - are students in Greater Toronto Area high schools in good shape or plump, a nice way of saying overweight?
It was just about this time three years ago, when the Ontario Government launched a program called "Raise the Bar". A Guelph high school teacher, Steve Friesen, was appointed Director of the program that would try stimulate more involvement in physical education.
Things have been very quiet since. The hype is gone, or so it seems.
Back in my day, if you participated in "intramurals", you were considered a geek or somebody really odd. All the so called athletes were on school varsity teams. That was the macho thing and, apparently, still is in many places.
Students were told they weren't good enough, when cut from a team. Get that several times, and it's easy to find an alternative to physical education.
While many teenagers are focusing more on grades, needing the part time job to make ends meet, some also don't have the extra dollars to spend on equipment nor the time to invest in a full and committed sports schedule. Others, well, just aren't interested.
Some high school phys-ed teachers also leave me with the impression that the varsity team is what it's all about. Guess it's their way of feeling like they're in the NBA, NHL, CFL or whatever.
According to Friesen, stats show between 15 and 20 per cent of students in schools play on varsity teams. And the rest?
I asked the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations for some data and, well, they don't have up-to-date numbers on how many students are actually playing school sports. It's true. They haven't had it for years. Michael Suraci, the assistant executive director, seems like a nice guy - but new to the job. He admitted to guessing at about 300,000 students across Ontario play varsity sports. But, that was a guess. I asked him - does a kid playing football, basketball and baseball count as one or three? According to OFSAA, it's three. So much for numbers.
Friesen believes there continues to be a huge concern on the small numbers of high school students keeping in shape. Why isn't there a push to play more intramurals - like over at Toronto's Victoria Park Secondary. More than half of that school is going the intramural way. Many still play varsity sports, and that's fine. But, why can't the numbers increase at other schools?
The Ontario Government took a step getting physed back in elementary schools - even for 20 minutes a day. Now, they need to get it back in high school, or even offer credits for students in intramural sports. If not, experts claim health care budgets, in future years, will rise significantly.
Time to get teenagers active.
And, I don't mean using fingers to text-message or even the addiction to what is offered by the gaming industry.
Is physical education a priority or not?