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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioIt's the beginning of the end of physical education as we know it. Teachers say they're starting to focus on different things than they did years ago, and they're using video games to do it.
When you head into any given arcade, you may see a line at one particular game. It's called "Dance Dance Revolution," or one of the subsequent versions of the game. This little girl says it's really tricky but quite entertaining. She says, "It's really cool, and it makes your feet go like crazy." This is one game her father doesn't seem to mind watching her play. He says at least it gets her moving. "I've seen kids get really sweaty on it."
For anyone who hasn't seen the game, the players need to actually dance and land their feet at the right times, or they're out.
Jordan School District physical education staff director Cindy Lloyd says, "Even just at the movie theaters, if you watch and see the kids get up there and do that, it's fantastic." Lloyd says the old ways of getting kids to exercise don't work as well as before. She says, "Kids need to be entertained. They need to be more connected with what's around them."
Lloyd says there is one school in the district that's using video games as P.E. curriculum. It's Sunset Ridge Middle School in West Jordan. "At that school, there are two DDR stations and two bikes that are set up with the TVs and the Playstation, and they can race each other. It's a neat system," Lloyd says.
Jordan School District officials want more of these games in other schools, but they don't have the money.
Lloyd says, "In a lot of ways, it's cost-prohibitive, and in situations where there is crowding in schools or large class sizes, it's a lot more difficult."
Lloyd says they tried to get more dance machines, but the grant that helped them get the ones they have is no longer funded. She says the games can be more motivating than competitive team sports. "The kids who were nonathletic did not like P.E. They suffered through it."
Lloyd says teachers are shying away from competitive matches because of this, and they're focusing more on personal fitness. She says old school games like dodge ball are no more.