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Difference Between Physical Education and Athletics

Updated on February 19, 2014

Athletics and physical education are both important, but they are not the same. Athletics is referring to an extracurricular activity that is not designed for everyone. The perfect example of this is a school’s interscholastic sports program.

Athletics has importance in a young person’s life. One of the primary benefits of athletics is the character that it builds. When in a game setting, intense pressure is put on athletes. This pressure is different from anything they would face from academics, social pressures, or anything else. It will however, prepare them for the future when they may find just as much pressure on themselves. Athletics helps to develop a person emotionally. Competition brings out the character of an individual. When a person gets caught up in the emotions of the moment, what is really inside will come out. Not only does athletics show a person’s character, but it also builds character. Discipline is ingrained in an athlete as he continues to push himself in practice day after day doing things his body does not want to do. Athletics also encourages people to learn how to get along with others in a team environment. This is a valuable skill that the athlete will need no matter what he does after school.

Although the abilities that athletes have will not last a lifetime, the lessons learned from athletics will be used for a long time. Integrity, diligence, loyalty, perseverance, honesty, respect, submission to authority, and toughness are qualities that will last.

Physical education is important to be involved in, but it is important in a different way. Physical education develops students in a number of ways. The most obvious of these is physically. A good physical education program will provide ways for the student to exercise his body and grow physically. A physical education class helps the student to grow socially. Many of the things done in a physical education class are done within a team setting. Students can learn to interact with their peers and accomplish things together. Communication is vital in games where teams are involved. These skills are things which for the most part are presently necessary in the workplace.

Not only does physical education help to develop a person, but it also teaches him skills that he will be able to use for the rest of his life. It is often said that education is preparation for life. That is certainly the case here. A good physical education class will teach a person skills that he will use later. For example, exercise is important. As people get older, it is even more important that they take care of their bodies and stay in shape.

Many people do not realize that there is a difference between physical education and athletics. The biggest difference between them is their purpose. The main purpose of a physical education class is to provide an environment in which students can learn skills that will be used in a sport. Participation is stressed. The purpose of athletics is for those who have special talents to be able to develop them further in a competitive environment. Physical education is designed for everyone to take part, even if they have certain disabilities. It provides an equal opportunity for students of all different levels of skill. Athletics is only for those with special talents in that specific sport. Athletics are almost always extracurricular; in most cases physical education is a required class. The environments are also a big difference between the two. Athletics is concerned with the best performance of a person. They must perform under much pressure in a highly competitive environment. The setting for physical education is much more low key. Pressure situations usually do not exist and learning is stressed. Spectators are encouraged to attend athletic events. In fact, some of a school’s athletic program is based upon the money that spectators bring in. Spectators are virtually non-existent in a physical education class because it is a class, not an entertaining event. All of the activities of a physical education class are held within a school, while the games of an athletic program are often held at other schools.

Although there are many differences between athletics and physical education, they both have their place. They both accomplish some of the same purposes, but they have different overall objectives.

Physical Education Requirements

In high school, was physical education a required class?

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    • Jana Campanelli profile image

      Jana Campanelli 

      8 days ago from Melrose Park, IL

      Some people do not understand the importance for kids emotional and spiritual well being.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I want to dodgeball


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