Judgments in gym class: For girls, it never ends


Angelina Oliveira

Staff Writer Angelina Oliveira writes that much judgement is passed on girls who care about the game being played in a gym class.

Angelina Oliveira, Staff Writer

Picture this- it’s a typical dreary Monday. You sulk through the day until begrudgingly you arrive at your sixth-period gym class. You enter the echoey gym to find the casual chatter of multiple groups of students, huddled together in cliques. You weave through the various groups, first passing the “popular” group, then passing the “weird” kids, then finally passing what I like to refer to as the “middle,” everyone who falls somewhere in between.

See, the social hierarchy of school is less of a pyramid structure and more of a spectrum. Yes, you can still be labeled as “popular” or “weird,” but the majority of us students end up scattered throughout the middle. 

Where you end up on this spectrum is formed very early on in your high school years and can rarely change as you pass through high school. Though students’ social position is often known a few months into freshman year, it isn’t always accepted until around senior year. Basically, by the time we hit senior year everyone tends to start caring less about other people’s opinions on them and where they land socially.  

The thing is, even if people accept where this popularity system places them, it can still affect how they are treated. 

In most classes, social positioning doesn’t have a significant impact, but in a few classes this position is heightened. In most core classes, the only thing that’s really of importance is if you are seen as a diligent and smart student. If people know that you turn in work on time and they can rely on you if they need help with homework or someone to peer edit with then you’re good to go. One of those classes happens to be gym- the class we’re all required to take and where all types of people get lumped together every year.

The reason social positioning is so significant in gym class is fairly unknown and rarely talked about, but I’d guess pretty much everybody feels it when they step into the locker room or onto that wooden floor. Maybe it’s the competitive nature of gym class that brings out people’s judgmental side. I’m not trying to scrutinize anybody in particular, as we all make judgments on others (I know I have; it’s how we act on these judgments that really matters). What I question is why we have to judge certain people and make them inevitably feel bad.

For boys in gym class, it doesn’t really matter what your reputation is or how you’re perceived. If you’re a boy, you can try as hard as you want to without being judged by others. The judgment for boys comes more if you’re not athletically inclined (basically, you suck at sports). However, even if you suck, you still won’t be judged for trying hard; you’re just likely to be made to feel foolish for falling flat on your face.

Do you think girls face judgment for trying hard in gym classes?

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For those who identify as girls, however, it’s a different story. To be able to try hard without receiving judgment you have to either: A, be “popular” or B, be a known athlete. If you don’t fall under either of these categories, people seem to judge you harshly if you’re trying or care at all about the game. For some reason, girls are expected to suck at sports and be inferior to the skill level of boys at whatever sport or activity we’re playing. Because of this expectation, we get eye rolls and passive-aggressive comments if we don’t simply stand around or put in a half-hearted effort. These comments and looks are mainly given by boys but girls can be just as bad without even realizing it. 

If you’re labeled as “weird,” and especially if you’re a girl, it’s hard to do anything in gym class without being criticized. Suddenly gym, which is supposed to be a fun or at least a less-stressful part of our days, becomes anything but that. It becomes a place where many girls and especially girls who are labeled as “weird” are often made to feel bad about themselves.

So I’m asking nicely– next time you’re in gym class and get annoyed at a girl for either trying or not being good at something, try not to take it so seriously. Try to hold your eyeroll and definitely stop making insulting comments. Is winning a game really worth hurting someone’s feelings and confidence? I mean, c’mon, it is just high school gym class after all.