This study described 476 recruits’ physical education backgrounds and beliefs about the purposes for physical education. Beliefs about purposes are formed in part by physical education experiences and are important to examine because they are difficult to change and because they influence students’ receptivity to teacher education. Most recruits recalled programs that focused on traditional team sports, games, and fitness programs, with less emphasis on individual sports and expressive or noncompetitive activities. Few differences by sex, race, or socioeconomic status were found. Recruits’ reported purposes were coded into nine categories; the top purposes were learning skills, named specific activities, and fitness. The discussion focuses on the possibility of the existence of a de facto national curriculum and factors to consider if changes in physical education curriculum are desired.
J.H. Placek and P. Dodds are with the Physical Education Teacher Education Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 107 Totman Bldg., Amherst, MA 01003. S. Doolittle is with the Dept. of Physical Education at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11550. P.A. Portman is with the Dept. of Physical Education at Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. T.A. Ratliffe is with the Dept. of Physical Education at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306. K.M. Pinkham is with the Dept. of Health and Physical Education, Needham Public Schools, Needham, MA 02194.