The Problem with Treating Exercise as Punishment
Updated: May 3, 2019
Today's blog is a special guest post written exclusively for the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series by Reese Jones.
In movies like Carrie or Coach Carter, you often see coaches using exercise as a form of punishment, as it has always been seen as harmless and character building. Yet this form of school discipline is now being seen as problematic, and the argument is that schools and sports teams shouldn’t use it.
Teachthought points out that using exercise as punishment can have adverse effects on a child’s psyche. The article notes that equating exercise with punishment encourages kids to harbor negative feelings towards physical activities. This could also affect how they learn at school with The Sport Digest listing how exercise can help students with brain cell development, memory, and focus. The good news is that schools across the country are putting a greater emphasis on understanding the mental health of students and how best to help them in the education system. Maryville University documents that specialists have found connections between mental health and learning success. It is this type of research that has shown how different forms of punishment, even it they are done with the best intentions, can have a detriment affect on a child’s education and upbringing.
So why is it still considered an appropriate form of punishment? In an article for the Tennessean, Dr. Mark Anshel wrote that coaches and teachers “believe that exercise as punishment can teach students that there are consequences to their actions.” Dr. Anshel believes that instead teachers should seek alternative ways to stop bad behavior. It’s better for educators to create a social support system. Alternatives to using exercise as a punishment include pointing out inappropriate behavior first before deciding on a punishment. They should also opt for other disciplinary strategies like after-school detention or meeting with the parents and deciding on a course of action together.
Using disciplinary tactics that do not involve forced physicality and overexertion is a much better way to discipline a student and is incredibly beneficial for children who are still in their formative years.
In fact, using exercise as a punishment is deemed so unpleasant that in some states it is already been considered a form of corporal punishment. Many children unfortunately already experience some form of physical punishment at home. The latest statistics we published on Play Like A Champion reveals that 26% of kids in the country have experienced trauma before they even turned four. Sports coaches and teachers need to be briefed and trained to be trauma-sensitive and aware. For many students this added physical discipline, particularly if home violence is the root cause of misbehavior at school, could only make the problem even worse. This just proves how necessary it is to have the correct training to handle these situations. Hopefully the above studies will lead to a decrease in exercise as a form of punishment, and scenes like those from Carrie or Coach Carter will become a thing of the past.