Letter to the Editor
Posted December 9, 2005

Dear Editor,

As co-chair of the Movement and Sports Science Department, I am quite disappointed in your editorial “Physical education lacks variety” (Nov. 18). While you are entitled to a personal opinion that our Fitness for Life classes are “lame” and “ a complete waste of time,” I would like to think that your responsibility as journalists is to seek out qualified sources and present an educated opinion based on facts.

You suggest that the information covered in Fitness for Life is interesting, but think we should save it for MSS majors and let activity classes fulfill the general education requirement. This takes the perspective that recess is the same as physical education and learning about health is only something for MSS majors. As reported in the media, we are facing a health crisis that affects all of us, especially children. In California, the state requires only a minimum amount of physical education from elementary through sophomore year in high school. There is no requirement for juniors and seniors to do anything active at a time in their lives when they may need it most. Do you think that our current health crisis will be solved if only physical education teachers understand the foundations of health and wellness?

Yes, the University used to offer a number of unique activity classes.
Many of these were dropped after the retirement of distinguished educator Roland Ortmayer in 1990, amid concern over risks inherent in participating in such activities. However, the revision of ULV general education in 1995 is what truly affected the number and type of activity classes. The University rejected the proposal of the then-Physical Education Department to add a two-unit theory class on the principles of health and wellness to the two units of activity previously required. While enjoyable, the activity classes did little to teach students how health and wellness should be applied to their lifelong learning, part of the mission of ULV. Also, those students who felt less than athletically inclined were challenged in how to fulfill the PE requirement when they had no desire to engage in athletic type activities. Faced with these concerns, the PE Department decided to incorporate both theory and practice into the new MSS 001 Fitness for Life class. This class addresses the requirements for general education by offering both information on health and wellness, as well as general lifelong fitness activities that could incorporate all levels of fitness and athletic ability. Although the PE Department still offered some activity classes as electives, enrollment in these classes dropped as students fulfilled their GE requirement in Fitness for Life. Without sufficient enrollment, it was no longer possible to offer most of these classes.

If a sufficient number of students have an interest in a particular activity and space and staffing allows, we would consider offering elective activities. However, it is not “simple” as you claim to drop Fitness for Life and add activity classes to fulfill the GE requirement. Please find out more about the GE requirements and their history before irresponsibly taking this department to task for fulfilling our professional responsibility to the students of ULV to teach the health and wellness concepts that will enhance the quality of your life.

Paul Alvarez
Professor of Movement and Sports Science

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