Face Off: should sport lessons be compulsory?

YP ReporterYP ReporterPearl Chia

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week’s topic is ...

YP ReporterYP ReporterPearl Chia |

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The Chinese University of Hong Kong has Physical Education as a core course for its students.

Pearl Chia, 16, South Island School

Sport lessons shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative to traditional academic subjects, but rather as an integral part of a more diversified curriculum.

Students are always busy with homework and extracurricular activities, so they often don’t have the time or motivation to exercise. Compulsory sports lessons ensure that they are involved in some kind of physical activity at least a few times a week.

Doing sports is a great way for students to cope with stress, depression and anxiety. It gives them a chance to relax after a tough day at school. It helps improve their brain function and mental well-being, leading to a better academic performance.

What’s more, the skills students gain by playing sports can be very useful at work. They include leadership, teamwork, good communication, and perseverance, skills that show them what is right and wrong, and the value of honesty and hard work. These are all important skills that employers look for in their workers nowadays, and these cannot be learned from classroom lessons alone.

Making sports lessons compulsory in school means that talented athletes can be discovered early and given proper training and encouragement. Hong Kong is not known for producing too many world-class athletes, so it’s about time we changed that. Sports lessons are a good way to find future sports stars. In addition, taking part in sports lessons can help students make new friends and become more open and outgoing.

Sport lessons improve students’ self-discipline and make exercise a lifelong habit. This would result in a healthier, more active future generation.

Joyee Au Yeung, 17, St Paul’s Co-educational College

Should sports lessons be compulsory for students? The short answer is “no”.

Some schools may impose high standards for sports and this can be stressful and unfair for some students. With so much pressure coming from assignments, homework and exams, sports lessons make students’ lives even more difficult.

Some people argue that sport lessons are key to developing a healthy lifestyle, but this plan may backfire. Making sports lessons compulsory won’t help physically disabled students or those who are not very good at sports like athletics, swimming, basketball, badminton or table tennis. Those who are unable to compete against their more athletic classmates could feel embarrassed. This could isolate the less capable students and make them feel inferior and unworthy. Less sporty students could also be targeted by bullies. This would be a huge blow to their emotional and psychological health. Such unpleasant experiences could make the students hate exercise even more, and they could bear those scars for the rest of their lives.

Sports lessons should be optional. I believe that only students who are comfortable with such classes should participate in them.

Sports lessons are not a “must” for students to maintain a healthy life. There are other ways to destress: for example, they could play games or chat to friends during breaks, or take a walk around the neighbourhood at lunchtime.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne