Physical Education Gym Class Heroes, Try-Hards, and All-Stars: An Analysis of Facebook Comments


  • Jenny Mae Linker North Dakota State University
  • Julia A. Valley Northeastern Illinois University
  • Jamie A. O' Connor University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • David Newman Daum San Jose State University



participation patterns, physical education curriculum, affective behavior


This study inductively analyzed posts made on an existing participant-initiated open Facebook group page called “Dude, Calm Down…It’s Gym Class.” Following data retrieval, the first 25 days’ posts following the page’s inception were examined. Open coding was used as a method of identifying the content and curricular activities discussed within the page’s posts. The frequency of codes were determined with descriptive statistics, and post content was examined with the constant comparative method. Quantitative results showed that 1,882 of the 2,969 posts analyzed were coded as being made by males (63.3%), whereas 36.7% (n = 1,087) were coded as being made by females. Nearly half (49%) of the posts described participants’ own or their peers’ participation behaviors exhibited in physical education class. Of the 337 activity references, invasion games (n = 145, 43%) dodgeball (n = 72, 21.4%), and net/wall games (n = 69, 20.5%) were the most frequently mentioned. Qualitative analyses resulted in three major themes: student groups (Pro-Page—supported the page’s ideology; Anti-Page—did not support the page’s ideology; and Reasonables—could see the validity of both arguments), participation patterns (Overachievers, Underachievers), and Meanness (a general derogatory and negative nature of the posts). Results of this study support the need for further exploration of peer behavior as a potential influencer on student attitudes toward physical education.

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Author Biographies

Jenny Mae Linker, North Dakota State University

Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences

Assistant Professor

Julia A. Valley, Northeastern Illinois University

Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics

Assistant Professor

Jamie A. O' Connor, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


Assistant Professor

David Newman Daum, San Jose State University

Department of Kinesiology