Vermont’s excellence in P.E. is a mixed blessing

America is fat.  This is why a recent report by National Association for Sport and Physical Education that showed Vermont was near the top in physical education requirements for students K-12 was somewhat encouraging news. Vermont is one of only 18 states that does not allow students to substitute other activities for their physical education credits.   The state is also one of only five that requires physical education classes for every grade level.   Vermont’s commitment to teaching their youth the importance of a healthy mind and body is a bright spot in a nation where more and more children seem to be shopping in the “Husky” section of J. C. Penney.   As a camp counselor this summer, I witnessed firsthand the levels of laziness America’s youth are capable of. Every camper that signed up for basketball camp seemed more interested in playing NBA Live 10 on their PSP than actually dribbling a real ball.   Card games replaced tag and lunches consisted of Fruit Roll-Ups, Little Bite muffins and Lunchables. When the kids are drinking beverages with ingredients reading high fructose corn syrup and Red Dye 40, you know you’ve reached a low point.    When I ask, “Do you have any fruit?” pointing to your gummy fruit snacks does not count as a “yes.” And it’s not all the parent’s fault. The country as a whole seems mired in food excess — a choice example being Texas Roadhouse, where the green beans I ordered came covered in butter and bacon. Bacon. On my green beans. While I am happy that the state I chose to be my home for at least the next four years is at the top of the pack when it comes to American physical education practices, I am discouraged at the performance of America as a whole in that area.   Only one state — Alabama — meets the recommended government guidelines for time spent on physical education. We are not even meeting our own low standards.   That means that even though Vermont may be one of the best in the country, they are really a one-eyed man in a sea of the blind. Or maybe a size 40 waist in a sea of sweatpants wearers.   The battle to make America healthier begins with our youth. I am glad that Vermont is above the bar when it comes to physical education, I just wish the bar were higher.