Should Marching Band Be A PE Waiver?

Should Marching Band Be A PE Waiver?

Burke Cochran and William Sieracki

Why it should:

     From the stands, and I say this from watching from the stands myself on occasion, marching band doesn’t look difficult. It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of effort necessary for it. And that is the main point that some people on the other side of the argument will use; why should band kids be allowed to waive out of one semester of gym when they aren’t doing anything overly physical? The problem with that is marching band does require lots of physical activity, and that it isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.


     Band camp starts up in the summer and runs to just before the start of the school year. Camp lasts one week, and it’s pretty grueling for some. Practicing outdoors in high heat for several hours each day is tiring. When marching season starts, band has weekly practices of 2-3 hours per practice, doing nothing but learning routines. It’s quite a bit of physical activity..


     Each Friday, band has to be out on the field at halftime no matter the conditions outside. For instance, the last game of the season was marred by rain and overall terrible weather. Almost everyone at the game left: except for band. We were still out there performing in the pouring rain. And the uncomfortable uniforms that band has to wear with no way to cool down didn’t help either. Granted, that isn’t the greatest example, but it proves my point that band does a lot more than most people might think.


     On the other hand, maybe being able to waive out for the entire first semester is a little much. Marching season doesn’t last all of first semester; it ends in October. It might be more viable to make band members go back to gym class after marching season ends, but that opens up an entirely new discussion.


     As it stands right now, I think marching band does enough physical activity to justify allowing gym class waivers. Obviously marching band doesn’t do nearly as much physical stuff as other fall sports do, like football or cross country. But marching band takes a lot of effort, and I think band deserves to be recognized as something that requires that effort.  


Why it shouldn’t:

Physical Education is probably one of the worst parts of high school. And to make it worse – we now have to do more of it. New requirements make it required to be enrolled in PE every semester of high school. This means more and more students are trying to find a way to get out of the class. Students can do sports to waiver out of gym, but there’s also a less known loophole: marching band.


Marching band is an extracurricular activity where students get instruments and, well, march while playing them. They play at sports events, as well as having weekly practices.


While some argue that this activity has a form of physical activity, it’s not as intense as is required in a varsity sport, which is the normal requirement. There’s not a huge weight to this argument as well because it’s not even a sport by IHSA, and most sports have practices practically everyday – not once a week.


In addition to this, only upperclassman can get waivers for sports; whereas, everyone in marching band gets a PE waiver. Whether they’re carrying symbols or a super heavy drum, it all counts as a way to get out of PE, which is unfair to other students who spend time doing other physical activities and get out of PE because of it, or students with other time commitments.


Some members of the marching band argue that they get out of PE because marching band is just as much of a time commitment as a sport would be. While marching band may have a time commitment, this argument would mean that many other school-activities should also be given a waiver for gym. Science Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, DECA, or even debate require a large time commitment in order to be successful. Marching band has practice every wednesday after school, for around two hours. The debate team has practice every day after school for at least two hours, often staying past six o’clock almost every day the week before a tournament.


Marching band should not count as a PE waiver.