The Torturous Nature of Online Physical Education
Reading Time: 4 minutes
In the COVID-19 era, gym teachers across the country and at our own Stuyvesant High School have had to quickly come up with an educational and engaging way to do physical education virtually. The fact of the matter is, they have failed. Journalist John McJohnkins discussed the embarrassing nature of remote gym on the popular television show “Donate to Whatever We Tell You,” including an interview with Stuyvesant student Sherryl Rin. The following text is an excerpt from a transcript of that episode.
*A reporter, John McJohnkins, stands in front of an apartment building and knocks on the door.*
McJOHNKINS: Let me paint you a picture. Children and teenagers all across New York City are forced to turn on their devices. They log in to some program, Zoom or Room or whatever, which turns their computers into security cameras. They are watched, like hawks, by their peers and by an adult who is pulled into this charade. The students are “encouraged” to participate, and by that, I mean if they don’t participate, they won’t graduate. Almost in tears, they must jump around like chickens, panting, while they count: “One, two, three, four…” When they are finished, flushed and sweaty, the pain isn’t over. They must repeat this multiple times and watch their peers follow the same fate. This continues for over half an hour every single week. Hi. I’m John McJohnkins, and I’m here to tell you about this horrible routine that students are forced into every day. They’re already struggling during remote learning, having to learn and exert their knowledge with the parts of their brains that aren’t fried. They are required to memorize obscure facts that likely won’t help them in the future. They must stay up until sunrise chanting, like summoning a demon, until these facts are drilled into their minds. And after all of this, you’d think these kids would get a break, but no. They must sweat in their homes, while their uncles stare at them judgingly. When the teacher calls on them, the students have to glance awkwardly at their family members and implore them to stop chatting. What is this torture, you ask? Well, adults, parents, and dragons, listen closely, as this will shock you. It is remote high school physical education.
I know, the horror. The horror! You must all be gaping at your television sets by now. Oh wait…you guys don’t watch cable, right? What is this on? Hulu? Whatever. People, real adult people, actually thought that jumping around in front of a camera and squinting at a screen to read the screen-shared workout could replace happy kids running around a gymnasium. News flash: it doesn’t. This is legitimate torture. I am now at the apartment door of a student at Stuyvesant High School. Her name is Sherryl Rin, and she is one of the victims of remote high school PE.
*McJohnkins opens the door and enters the apartment.*
Hello, Ms. Rin. You are Sherryl’s mother, correct?
MS. RIN: Yes, yes, but please be quiet! Sherryl’s in her gym class now.
McJOHNKINS: Aha! We are now going to witness for our very own eyes what happens during PE.
MS. RIN: No, no, you can’t! She’s…she’s…counting, and if I make a noise, she’ll be forced to banish herself from this dimension due to embarrassment!
McJOHNKINS (whispering): When we come back, we’ll have an exclusive interview with Sherryl Rin.
*McJohnkins walks into the living room of 4R. Sherryl is sitting on the couch, sweating from the exercises, six feet away from McJohnkins, as he sits down on a chair.*
McJOHNKINS: Welcome back to “Donate to Whatever We Tell You To!”
McJOHNKINS: As we said when we left off talking to Ms. Rin, this episode is about how online gym is literally just torture. I’m here with Sherryl, who seems to be having a mental breakdown on the couch.
SHERRYL (scratching her eyeballs): Make it stop. Make it stop!
McJOHNKINS: Make what stop, Sherryl?
SHERRYL: Every B 6-10 day I have to do push-ups, jumping jacks, and squats! Sixty-seven squats! And I mean, how am I expected to awkwardly punch forward in an imaginary boxing ring while trying to keep my head in frame so my teacher doesn’t mark me absent? I have to get down real low! And everyone knows that my thighs can’t handle that! Sometimes my neighbors from below come upstairs and complain about all the ruckus I’ve been making. It’s humiliating. My lifestyle is sitting on the couch and binge-watching “WandaVision,” not doing planks! I’m a gelatinous blob, not Usain Bolt. Let me be a gelatinous blob!
*Sherryl wipes a tear.*
McJOHNKINS: I understand, Sherryl. The pain you have to go through once every four school days must be terrible.
*Sherryl nods, then looks away.*
McJOHNKINS: Viewers, as you can see, these children must suffer through this terrifying thing called exercise. If you donate to our “Free the Children” charity, you can help these poor kids. I mean, this practically falls under cruel and unusual punishment for…existing? For just $5 a day, we will do glorious things to fight this atrocity, such as begging on our knees for the DOE to do something (looking at you, chancellor), and for the love of God, STOP MAKING THE STUDENTS COUNT! Please. We need your help to take a stand against forced child labor. This is a serious issue ravaging our country. There have to be better ways to exercise than…than this! Thank you for your time, and thank you for saving children from the torture of PE.