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Why Can’t Homeschoolers Play on School Sports Teams?

Years ago there were major problems with “ringers,” or players who weren’t qualified, playing on teams in league sports. These were kids that were years older and more muscular. These were kids that were not up to par academically. They may not have even lived in the school district. They attended a nearby private school that didn’t have a sports program. The leagues cracked down so that all schools could only draw from their own students, who met academic qualifications and were the same age as other players. It was the fair thing to do.

If this is the primary reason you are being given for not allowing your teen on the local high school team, you then must decide which is more important: football or homeschooling.

Or you adjust your homeschool program to meet or exceed the NCAA requirements. This does involve more course requirements and record keeping than may be required by your state homeschool law, but if your teen wants to play college sports, then until the NCAA requirements are changed, you have no choice but to follow them.

By Ann Zeise

NCAA
Initial-eligibility procedures for homeschooled student-athletes. Frequently asked questions on how to qualify using experience gained in athletics and academics while homeschooling.

As my mother used to say, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too!” (I always thought that didn’t make much sense, because when she gave me a piece of cake I always managed to eat it, too.)

At some point we all have to decide what is most important to us.

Some states do require that local schools accommodate area homeschoolers by allowing them into extracurricular activities. Some school districts are accommodating whether or not there is a law forcing them to be so.

Our district decided to attract homeschoolers by allowing them into high school for 2 or 4 classes. That way the district could get partial ADA money, and the area homeschoolers could take some courses, and qualify for teams. You may be able to convince the district to have some sort of homeschool program. You’ll give up some of your homeschool freedoms for the rights to access to the school services you feel your child needs.

Insurance companies are cracking down on schools. They will insure all employees and enrolled students, and maybe even the students’ parents, but they no longer want to be liable for everyone in town coming onto a school campus.

If that is the primary reason the school gives, then ask them if they’ll accept your waiver of liability. Here’s a template you could use:

 

WAIVER OF LIABILITY

[Name of Parent] will indemnify, hold harmless, and defend [School and School District] and its employees and volunteers from all liability from loss, damage, or injury to [Our child’s Full Name] or property in any manner arising out of [Our child’s First Name]’s participating as a [student, team member, etc] at [Location] including without limitation all consequential damages, whether or not resulting from the negligence of the [School District Name] or its agents.

[Print name], [__Sign Name__], [Date]

Reassure them that you carry your own health insurance which would cover your child in case of injury during a program at the school.

Get the kids’ athletic coach to go to bat for your child. If they really like your child and want them involved, they’ll figure out a way to make sure they can stay. You may want to offer them a small fee for the “extra” child, if they are allowed to take such funds.

You make a choice, and you live with it. You can totally wean yourself from school services. Many do, and never miss them! Or you could decide you need those services badly enough that you are willing to enroll your kids back in school.

You could encourage your child to chose a more individual sport rather than a sport that requires a large team. Are there any private sports teams in the area or teams sponsored by the city government rather than the school district in your area? Look at all the Olympic sports! And there are still many ways of keeping fit that aren’t included in the Olympic roster, too. Fortunately, homeschooling offers a way for a youth to become an outstanding athlete for life, and not just a high school player.

In some areas homeschool parents have formed teams and leagues, and the participants play in most, if not all, the sports they offer.

Sports Programs
Competitive athletic teams are formed all over the country for homeschoolers. See if there is one near you, or learn how to start one in your region.

Additional resources on this topic

Homeschoolers’ Access to Public School Sports
Homeschoolers in Virginia are not allowed to play on public high school interscholastic sports teams. Here’s why. Public high school interscholastic sports are regulated by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). The VHSL writes athletic eligibility rules and guidelines that all public high schools in the state must follow. Schools which fail to follow these rules lose their ability to compete against other schools.

Homeschooler Participation in High School Sports
Under “Sports.” In order to compete in high school sports at a public or private high school, the student must fit into the eligibility requirements of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF).

Homeschoolers and Sports Participation in Illinois
Interscholastic high school sports are guided by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which is an organization independent of the public schools with its own rules. IHSA 2003-2004 rules state that a homeschooled student may participate if the student is “enrolled at the member high school, …taking a minimum of 20 credit hours of work at the member school or in a program approved by the member school, and the student must be granted credit for the work taken either at the member school or in a program it approved.”

Ohio’s Homeschoolers Can Now Join Public School Sports Teams
Now (as of November 2013), Ohio’s more than 23,000 homeschooled students can participate in any activity that’s offered at their home school district without being enrolled in any classes.

The State of Alabama’s Tim Tebow Bill
We are a group of citizens of the great state of Alabama lobbying for our state public education establishment to allow homeschooled students equal access to sports and extracurricular activities. For those of you who haven’t heard of Tim Tebow, Tim was a homeschooled student who played football for a public high school team in Florida, led his team to the state championship, became one of the top college “picks” in the nation and now plays on the Florida Gators national championship team. Fortunately for Tim, Florida passed a similar bill to ours in 1996.

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