Should Home Schooled Children Be Allowed to Play Varsity Sports?

Dear Commons Community,

An article in the New York Times raises the question whether home schooled children should be allowed to play varsity sports.   Presently twenty-five states allow home-schooled students to play sports at public schools with varying restrictions, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia are expected to consider similar legislation this year.  The view of one Virginian home-schooled soccer player, Patrick Foss, who would like to play on his local high school varsity team but under present statutes cannot is:

“My parents pay the same exact taxes as my next-door neighbor who plays varsity sports,” he said. “I just want to be part of the community. You shouldn’t have to pick between athletics and academics.”

Opponents argue that playing varsity sports is a privilege surrendered when students opt out of the public school system; that home-schoolers might take roster spots from public school students; and that it would be extremely difficult to apply the same academic, attendance and discipline requirements to home-schooled students as to those who are monitored daily in public schools. To maintain varsity eligibility, for instance, Virginia’s public school students must take five courses in the current semester and must have passed five in the previous semester. Home-schooled students do not have to adhere to that standard.”

The article also attributes the interest in this issue to Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who was home-schooled but played football at a public high school in suburban Jacksonville, Fla., before winning a Heisman Trophy and two national championships at the University of Florida.

“People joke, but I think you can attribute a lot of this to the Tim Tebow story,” said Matthew Gillespie, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. “Everybody thinks they have a Tim Tebow in the backyard waiting to be found. Who’s to say?”

Who’s is to say is right!




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