P.E. Escapism 101

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P.E. Escapism 101


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There’s always one class that nobody really minds if they have to miss. For most students, that class is Physical Education. When it comes to having to miss a class and not worry about it, P.E. is the go-to choice, especially when there is a constant treasure trove of excuses to use. But in the modern world, everything and everyone – even P.E. teachers – are advancing. One might be shocked to find that the student’s classic “stomachache” plea for nonparticipation will only result in the teacher’s insistence of a “modified activity.” It’s a basic fact – getting out of P.E. isn’t as easy as it used to be.

So, what are some of the best excuses on the market today? “A lot of people blame their mom,” sophomore Katrina Kieckhefer said. “They say, ‘My mom didn’t wash my uniform,’ or ‘My mom made me late for school and I forgot it,’ or ‘My mom doesn’t want me to do P.E.’” As a student in high school entering adulthood, of course it’s your mom’s fault that you couldn’t do P.E. Maybe it’s also her fault that you got an F on that quiz, or that you dropped your brand new iPhone (that she bought you) in that puddle.

“Kids come up with all kinds of wacky injuries. ‘Knee this,’ ‘Ankle that,’ ‘My finger hurts so I can’t run.’ Everything from headaches to ‘I have a broken knee,’” sophomore P.E. teacher Erin Lawley said. “Whenever I ask for a parent’s note or doctor’s note, they’re magically healed. It’s pretty miraculous.”

Provided that the teacher is male, there’s one excuse for girls that seems to be practically foolproof. The horrible, chilling word that invokes fear in the heart of every man who, for some reason, is still too immature to grasp the basics of female biology. Periods.

“At my old school, about half of the gym class would use the excuse of saying ‘I’m on my period,’ and the gym teacher, who was a guy, would just go with it because he didn’t want to question them about it… six months later, they told him they were still on their periods and he actually believed them. Eventually, another girl had to tell him that periods don’t last for six months,” new sophomore Logan Gardner said about her previous school’s gym class.

It’s true – once the period card has been dealt to a male teacher, that’s the end of the discussion. I have yet to meet a male teacher that is willing to challenge a girl in that area. Helpful tip: freshmen swimming is the optimal time for this excuse. There’s just one flaw: if the P.E. teacher is female. Good luck with that one.

What if you just don’t feel like feigning cramps? Or what if you’re a boy? Health disorders are just about the next best thing. Asthma is an easy cop out, especially when you can pull the “I forgot my inhaler” trick on a teacher. The prospect of a wheezing (and lawsuit-inducing) child about to pass out on the track is enough to ward off any suspicions.

“Once, my friend told the teacher that her ‘childhood cancer scars’ were stopping her from doing P.E.,” freshman Sammy Jaber said. “She had cancer as a little kid, and was joking, but the teacher totally bought it.”

If all else fails, you may be left with one of the simpler options, like “forgetting” your uniform or shoes. And even if that doesn’t work, you’re left with no option but to go with the first thing that pops into your head – after all, what’s the harm in trying?

“Someone once tried to get out of swimming by saying their nose itched,” freshman Avi Cahn said.

In the end, going to such lengths to evade physical activity seems like a wasted effort. A large part of the day’s participation grade is simply based on wearing the famously fashionable Tam P.E. uniform. Would it really kill anyone to take an extra minute in the locker room to get dressed? It’s a cotton shirt and shorts, after all, not a 250 pound space suit. And spending time arguing with the teacher about whether your menstrual cramps are valid or not seems like a futile effort. Besides, avoiding a mile will only result in having to make it up later.

It’s true, P.E. is nobody’s favorite class. Students don’t leap for joy at the thought of swimming laps in the rain, or running a mile in under twelve minutes. But why put more effort into making excuses than the actual class? “I think a lot of kids are just lazy,” Lawley said. “They don’t want to participate, they don’t want to get sweaty… Heaven forbid their makeup gets messed up or their hair gets frizzy.”

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