“I'm tough. And I'm not fat. And I don't have a pornstache. And I made it through college. And I'm not a failure and a jerk.”
“This Article has gone un-quoted by me for too long.”
Welcome to P.E.:
puke everywhere physical education. Now, from the looks of my students' plaid shirts and pencil protectors, half of them only took this course because it looks like Physics on their transcript. But I've warned them, we're not studying nerdy parabolic trajectories of projectiles. Instead, it'll be the trajectories of red, plastic balls. You wouldn't know it, though, from reading about my profession; their kind renamed it "human kinetics," which sounds to me a snooty-nosed embarrassment in front of the whole student population. No matter; we PE teachers who have to intelligence in their single brain cell are strong enough to manhandle those ivory tower geeks and rip those books in half. Except those among my colleagues who've let themselves go.
To any goldbrickers in my class, we're not going to be lying around on a grass field looking at the clouds. I have assured them this course takes a buttload of work drenched in sweat filled with liquefied grit and covered in a metric ton of determination. In summary, PE sums up what is wrong with Planet Earth.
Let's see what they're here for.
edit Why physical education?
The human body has things called muscles. They work hard. They do double duty on moving us and showing off. But unlike the liver and the heart, muscles are not our friends. If you turn your back on your muscle for a second, it's gone. You have to show your muscles who's boss. The fact is that muscles have egos just like human beings, and like my students' spirit, the muscles' spirit to resist participation has to be broken. Muscles have got to be tamed, and it takes more than just exertion. Exercise is a mind game; it's messing with the muscles' minds. That takes dedication, grace, and the proper brand-name accessories. Muscles are the antagonist, taunting and playing hard-to-get, and subduing them is an art.
But it's not just muscle you've got to worry about. The body is full of this stuff called the salsa, and if you don't exercise then the spice runs out your bladder and gets replaced by nothing but wooden rubber and rubbery wood. And if that happens, you can kiss your dream of taking heart attacks and strokes at your own pace goodbye. You'll get them all at once when you're 40 and have to live in a catheter.
edit What PE students are up against
My students are entering an intensive programard workouts. And not those fancy-pants, mathematical workings out - real man workouts. There's no cheesecake for them - only piles of caked mud, and the occasional yellowcake. We are talking jack throwing, javelin put, sit ups, push downs, and track lifting. My students will also terrorise their muscles with our state-of-the-art, customised iron-pumping dungeon. Their muscles will say die, their hearts will say die, the Grim Reaper himself will say die, but they will keep on going or fail my course. This program should teach those kids the harshness of existence. I am a very philosophical coach that way.
They are also looking at an impressive sports program, featuring standard issue tennis, rugby, and ballet, as well as minor games: dodgeball, joy jumping, and ice baccarat. And I will expect my students to win. Because muscles don't respect losers, only winners, and you have to earn your muscles' respect before they'll even give bulging a second thought. I can see my kids' sagging, flabby tendonoids hanging there and thinking, "Why am I hanging out with this dupe who gets deeked out and lets the morning game go to the Saskatchewan Farmers? I'm out of here."
Here, I send those weak pussies to special terminals called "locker rooms" to get changed into these godawful, boring clothes. These clothes consist of noting but some t-shirt and nylon shorts. These allow them to look even more humiliated than they already are! Plus, it allows pedophiles to swoon over them, creeping them out!
In this game, I reckon the key is hustle. I give my kids hustle enhancer before every practice, which I mix up from coffee grounds and Gatorade. And I consider it unacceptable to neglect the vertical element; my students put their Nike "Air" shoes and whatnot to good use when reaching for the goal, which I've set 12 feet in the air. And I don't want to just see my goalies jump for a save, I want slow-motion jumping. I consider a soccer ball the primordial rock, and the goal is to intimidate: activate that might or fright reaction in the opposing team. My anticipation is that they'll be covered in mud from tip to toe, and if they aren't, they haven't practiced enough.
I consider soccer a game of beauty. Especially girls' soccer. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to watch that. Hearkens back to the Roman days of the discipline, when athletes went barefoot and bare-bodied. Makes me excited to teach this course.
Some administrators and parents may call me a purist, and that's their right as citizens of this nation, but I stand by my principles. Hockey is not to be played on concrete; the pedestrian setting is an insult to this great game, first played by Eskimos to keep warm and avoid death from frostbite. No, play on ice is the only respectful choice for those pioneers. But ice hockey is straight out of the question as far as I'm concerned: there's no friction, and it makes my kids weak. Once again, I had no choice but to take curricular matters into my own hands.
That's why I require all my classes to play quarry hockey. Lifting big rocks out of the way to get at the puck, now that'll toughen them up for sure. They've got to have that hustle again for when the boulders come rolling down. It's a very challenging sport and the perfect preparation for hockey college and a career in the Canadian hockey leagues, the most elite in the world. It's just regrettable that Americans won more games than us. Come next year, that'll all change, if my students strain to train.
I generally grade my students with a focus on how deep they cut the diamond. Twenty-four carat or better is an "A," but I expect a swath at least six inches deep in the baselines for a passing grade. In batting, my course places an emphasis on throwing the bat. My philosophy is, "there's no better offense than a good concussion."
Balls'll be flying at those kids. That's a fact. They'll need to have balls of their own to win this thing, and when the balls drop they're going to get screwed. I will not pass these kids for second basing-it - I want to see home runs. And anyone who fails gets thrown into the dugout of despair, which I consider an allegory for Hell. I'm a very religious coach that way.
That reminds me, let's see about the slouchers.
There are always nerdy weaklings, every year. The ones who catch like a cyclops, throw like a baby, and run like a rosebush. And don't get me wrong - for them, this course will be a nightmare. They usually get my very own version of the Stockholm Syndrome, learning to identify with their captor. That's me.
The stragglers' usual excuse is some kind of disease they call asthma. Well I say, it's just cowardice of the lungs. And the lungs aren't cowardly - the cowardice comes from the person. Like Vince Lombardi said, "wheezing isn't everything, it's an excuse to get out of gym class." Or something like that. Personally, I think they get it from being mama's boys.
I see these slackers shuffling their feet in the outfield, hanging out with the goalie instead of scoring points for the team, and being all-around wusses. Each year some poindexter gets hit in the face with an ordinary 50 MPH baseball and has to get dentures, because they were dogging it. That's why I've instigated a mark for participation. The kids who don't get picked for the kickball game will receive a mark of 0, because you can't win if you don't play.
Now it's a well-known fact that the brain sucks up the salsa from the rest of the body until the torso is as limp as a popped volleyball. That explains why so many nerds are physically unfit. For them, gym class has two good influences: it toughens up their muscles, and it toughens up them. The star athletes need waterboys, whipping boys, boys to pour water on with whips in it. And none of that flavoured water; that's for gamewinners. Some of the whinier parents have been forging notes to me from themselves, telling me to suspend their children from gym class. By habit I ignore these requests, as I believe the whooping these nerds take on a daily basis is just what's needed to reduce their inflated sense of self-esteem.
Muscle atrophication is nothing to scoff at. The word atrophy means roughly "without trophies." And that's how these kids will be if they don't start a healthy regimen of exercise, heat stroke, and daily purging. I'm serious. The only trophies they'll be getting will be for placing 9th in the "special" Olympics wheelchair race.
My role as their coach is limited. If I only have two hours a week with these kids, all the pummelling and whistle-blowing in the world isn't going to shape them up. They're are responsible for making gym their life, and I always say the sky is one big blue gymnasium. That means community service to develop their spatial sense. But these kids aren't endowed with the judgment of puberty, so I act in my role as counsellor. That is, if they're walking old ladies across the street, I have them measure their time. I also expect them to use this opportunity to motivate the grandma to get across faster. My students will need those motivational skills when they graduate from their entry level positions.
And then there's the regular training, or homeplay as I call it. It's a very important part of this course. I instruct them to shoot hoops, goals, or another approved target of their choice until the sunset is at least three lumens darker. I also expect my students to take time out of their studies to learn the plays. Since the playbook is three volumes, they will be studying until their eyes are hanging from their sockets. Price you pay for fitness.
The way I see it, real life is all about goals: you have to throw hard though holes to score. That's the way the game of life is played.
edit The military
It's a war out there. The fact is that gym class is just preparation for the real thing. Nowadays a war starts every 14.4 seconds. Today they're drenched in Gatorade, but tomorrow it might be blood, or nerve gas. Can any of my kids catch a grenade? No. I'm just saying their days are numbered on account of that simple fact. Doctor dodgeball is practice for the real thing; if a Jerry hits one of my students with a rubberised atom bomb, a doctor may not be able to drag them to safety. Those of my class who are not strong enough may find themselves in a situation where they can't lift a dumbbell-shaped weapon to save their lives. And then they're going to be in serious trouble against the opposing team.
Truth be told, I only took this job because I couldn't get into the army. That's why I put in a request for an old-fashioned, hard-sweating boot camp to be renovated onto the gymnasium. It was declined with some nonsense about constitutional rights. So I figure I'm just doing my duty for the next time we get attacked by Martians. I consider myself a very patriotic coach that way.
edit My job
Physical education is important, at least as critical to the upbringing of these kids as woodshop or drama. This culture of ours is getting decadent, soft, weak, full of beef fat and candied oil. These middle school kids with their Nintendos and iPods, if they don't exercise they'll grow up to be skeletons. No, gym class is part of a balanced diet. A diet of pain. I am going to mold these kids until they're blithering masses. Of muscle.
And besides, it's important my pupils appreciate their health. The best way to do this is to work them to within a centimetre of their lives. That's my job, and I firmly believe any student who collapses from asphyxiation or body odour is not doing theirs. I consider myself a very sadistic coach that way.