Should Homeschooled Students Be Able To Play High School Sports? Yes, But…

So what’s more difficult, Tim Tebow’s campaign to remain a virgin – in of all places the NFL – or finding compromise on issues involving homeschooling? In this week’s TIME School of Thought I go Tebowing!  Well actually I take a look at “Tebow laws” that give homeschooled students access to public school sports:

The Denver Broncos’ offseason just started, but their star quarterback Tim Tebow is already back in the news. Legislators in Virginia and several other states are considering proposals to allow homeschooled students to play high school sports at local public schools. Called Tebow laws, they are the same kind of rules that allowed their homeschooled namesake to play high school football in Florida long before he joined the NFL.

Despite — or perhaps because of — Tebow’s success, the prospect of lots of homeschoolers joining high school sports teams has the education establishment up in arms. Many opponents to Tebow laws repeat the mantra, “High school sports are a privilege, not a right.” Others fret that the logistics will be too daunting; for starters, how can you ensure homeschoolers are academically eligible to play? And after years of deriding public schools, homeschooling advocates seem shocked they’re not being greeted with open arms. The controversy surrounding Tebow laws is at once a reminder that homeschooling is too lightly regulated and a cautionary tale for those who want to broaden support for public schools.

You don’t need any special provisions to access the entire column at the TIME site via this link.

10 Replies to “Should Homeschooled Students Be Able To Play High School Sports? Yes, But…”

  1. Homeschoolers will eventually regret pushing for these bills. 1.) Joining the public school team will likely lead to the recruitment of the homeschool children back into the failed public school system. Since that will be where their “friends are.” 2.) It will open Homeschooling to more regulations and government intrusion. Homeschool test scores already show homeschoolers way ahead academically than their public school counterparts, that should be enough, but obviously people may abuse the system in order to be “eligible” for sports. If I was a homeschooler I would fear these bills, if I was a proponent of Public education I would embrace them as they will effectively end homeschooling in high school as we know it in those states that pass it.

  2. Here in Texas varsity sports are actual classes rather than after school activities like they used to be back in the day.

    So, for example, HS football players take “football” as their PE class all year long during a regular class period. During the actual football season they also have before school or after school practices. Often its before school here due to the heat in August and September. So a homeschooler who wants to play a varsity sport would have to show up every day for PE and would need to be a regular enrolled student for PE class all year long in order to be on the team.

    There are also rigid pass or play requirements that are geared towards the school grading calendar. Obviously that would need to be worked out.

  3. There are some additional issues that come to mind.

    First, size classifications are based on school enrollment. Here in Texas a school is 5A if it has over 2090 students in grades 9-12. It is 4A if it is between 1005 and 2089 students and so on. Would schools need to start counting home school students against their enrollment figures for athletics? If a school is at 2050 and there are 100 home school students in the enrollment zone would it get bounced up to 2150 and put into 5A even if only a handful do sports?

    Second, school funding is based on the number of enrolled students. The state portion of each schools budget is calculated on a per-student basis. If home school students only show up for PE and athletics would the school how would that work? Would the district be able to count the student as enrolled and claim the $9 grand or so that comes with it?

    Third, what about kids who attend private schools? Could they also return to play varsity sports at the local public HS? A lot of small christian schools around here don’t have enough students to field teams in many sports, especially big expensive sports like football and niche sports like swimming and tennis. Seems like they would have the same argument as home school kids.

  4. I personally take online courses from home, but I don’t think homeschoolers should be aloud to play sports at public HS because they take the spots on sports teams that rightfully belongs to a student at that school. There are a lot of club teams for various sports that are another option for homeschooled students. I also don’t agree that homeschoolers are smarter, no matter how many tests there are. I personally struggle with the same things that my friends that attend public or privet schools and are no farther along than they are.

  5. Given the sorry, screwed-up state of high-school athletics in this day and age, opening public-school athletic teams to homeschoolers seems to be inviting abuses.

    And it’s not even about religious homeschoolers… it’s more about people who will intentionally game the system in order to ensure that their Young Future Sports Star is as good as possible and gets as many looks as they can get from the college/pro agents.

    And you know as well as I do that if there weren’t a strong accountability system in place, the Sports Dads would be quick to exploit it for their 16-year-old Next Tim Tebows.

    I’d imagine the real homeschoolers would be up in arms about any level of academic standards that could prevent the abuse of the system.

    You’d have to have a system in place to ensure that some enterprising Sports Dad doesn’t just pull his promising young quarterback out of high school to “homeschool” him with more drills, practice, and weightlifting all day, followed by a quick cram-and-crash course three weeks before whatever test he has to take to determine “academic eligibility.”

    That would mean some kind of pre-planned curriculum (whether set by the parent or the HS athletic association) and regular checkups throughout the sports season to ensure that the athlete is keeping up with the plan.

    Anything else would be unfair to everyone. It would be unfair to the homeschooled Star Quarterback who’s being deprived of an education, it would be unfair to the other kids on his own team who would see this guy getting a lot more opportunities because he doesn’t have to do homework during the football season, it would be unfair to opposing teams whose quarterbacks would have to carry a full academic workload, and it would be unfair to the other people competing for college spots when they’re up against someone who could practice and work out instead of going to school six hours a day.

  6. I am a homeschooled athlete who has played with the same kids on Little League baseball all along. My brother has also played both baseball and football for our town. Now New Jersey has allowed towns to decide if a homeschooler can play high school sports, through a bill passed by NJSSIA. However my town has not come up with a decision on this matter. I am a good freshman aged pitcher and the other players and coaches would like to have me play for the team. It is not looking great as the season is about to start and the decision has not been made to include homeschoolers. My brother would like to play for the football team. It has been our experience that the team comes up short on players as our town is small. We are hoping we can play.
    Across the country, 1.5 million children are currently being educated at home. This is saving taxpayers anywhere between $4 to $10 billion dollars annually, by not sending their kids to free public schools. My parents have spent a lot of time and money on my education along with paying state taxes to our town for the last fourteen years.
    It would be good for the town, the team and my brother and I if they would let us play. We are homeschooled, however we are just ordinary kids. We take classes, do Algebra, Biology, dissections, write lab reports, take history, Spanish, Writing and Literature, Art, health, physical education and so on, we take tests, write papers, get good grades and not as good when we don’t study. We won’t curse, smoke and will be respectful and obedient to our coaches. We are dedicated athletes and will show up and play hard for our team…what’s not to like? We are Americans exercising our freedom of choice. We choose homeschooling however we can’t fund a football team. We save the taxpayers’ money and pay taxes…
    Let us Play for our high schools. Give us a chance to try out. Test us, we will pass an accedemic test. I have looked into GPA policy getting a 1.5 GPA to play should be a piece of cake. My Mom insists on A’s and B’s. I have the tests to prove it.
    I use my time wisely, have time to work a part time job, volunteer for community service, help teach a Sunday School class and go to youth group. I am always involved with sports. I take my commitments seriously.
    I am and will continue to be committed to our Towns teams. I feel people are fearful of homeschoolers, worrried about the freedom and flexability homeschooling affords. This freedom allows me to master my subjects and move on. Or take extra time if I am interested or have not mastered something. I still have time to study what I love, and love learning. Even thou I take all the required college prep classes.
    Being homeschooled offers a freedom to be part of the world at large, socialize with every age group, serve the elderly and the preschool aged children. Be able to talk to adults, not fear them. My parents goal is to train us to contribute and serve in our society. I have something to contribute to our teams and will be happy to serve when I am needed.

  7. Some real talk from a parent of a past extremely talented swimmer, division one talent.

    My son complied with ALL of the high school’s academic requirements for CIF play.

    You may well have taken an easier academic load with class grades awarded in the absence of a proctor or any kind of acceptable university standards. If by some circumstance my son had fallen off the CIF eligibility list due to a heavy load of AP chem, AP physics, AP calculus, and AP english lit, and you take his place on the 200IM, the breaststroke, the butterfly, and the free relays, how will he feel, and how will his teammates feel.

    No doubt, you would NOT swim as well as he did. The team would lose the district championship. Now think about it. How would you then feel when parents and teammates give you icy stares and the silence treatment. That is not bullying, far from it. It is the power of opinion and parent outrage. Nothing to sue about. Just take it right on the head.

    Now the positive. It could build a little character when you step out and exercise your right to choice. My advice to you is simple. YOU HAD BETTER BE THE STAR AND I MEAN A SUPERSTAR IN ORDER TO AVOID SOME PRETTY UNCIVIL TREATMENT FROM PARENTS.

    You can do it, but you cannot avoid the consequences. They will be there waiting for you with open arms.

    As you said, it is a free society. Yep, it is with all of its thorns and thistles.

    Have fun. I encourage you to do it.

  8. IF public schools are the DEN OF INIQUITY, which is the primary justification for home schooling and the reasoning by which they claim superiority, why do they wish to come back and play high school sports.

    And their claim that they save the district money is pure baloney. They very second they step on that field they are running up the district’s bill and the bill of taxpayers whose students go to that school. Imagine a wealthy parent who pays LOADS OF PROPERTY TAXES watching his son get crowded out of a deserved spot by a home schooler with an academic load that amounts to the 4th grade.

    Here in California the judgement on home schoolers was NOT PLEASANT. The UC system pretty much said 99% of their coursework was NOT a-g eligible. So the home schools sued. And they lost.

    My advice to you is very simple: Get out there and let er’ rip. But do not cry when you enter the milieu and politics of high school sports and their intensity and you get a bit hurt.

    It will toughen you up. Make you a man and get you out of that sheltered, parochial, home school environment and get your ready for a very cutthroat, tough world.

    Hang in there. I know you can do it.

    Who knows, you may end up enrolling in high school. But get ready, you may end up in REMEDIAL MATH as most homeschoolers do.

  9. “It will open Homeschooling to more regulations and government intrusion. Homeschool test scores already show homeschoolers way ahead academically than their public school counterparts, that should be enough, but obviously people may abuse the system in order to be “eligible” for sports.”

    Pure unadulterated baloney from a homeschool ideologue. Homeschoolers are now in trouble in CA. Their coursework is NOT ACCEPTED as meeting the UC a-g requirements.

    Tough luck for the home schooled. They now travel in a parallel universe.

    From the experience of some of my friends who are accelerated math teachers. home schoolers are particularly strong in english and particularly weak in math and science.

    Who knows. Perhaps homeschoolers are the new army of bloggers and opinion mavens.

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