Have you ever wondered, “Can homeschoolers play sports in public schools?” or “Can you play sports while being homeschooled?”
Or, what about if homeschoolers can play sports in private schools?
And, maybe you’re wondering:
Can homeschool students play high school sports? (Or, alternatively, Should homeschooled kids play high school sports?)
And, while we’re at it, we might as well ask:
Should homeschoolers be allowed to play sports . . . like, at all?
In this homeschooling blog post we’ll cover all this and more . . .
. . . but first let’s look at a quick overview of the bill:
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What Is The Tim Tebow Homeschool Law (“Equal Access”)?
The Tim Tebow law, officially known as the “Equal Opportunity for Access in Education Act,” is a bill that allows homeschoolers to play sports at public schools. It is named after NFL football player Tim Tebow, who was the first homeschooled student to play public school sports. There are currently 31 states that support the Tim Tebow law and allow homeschooled students to play public school sports. However, some of those states have rigorous requirements and legislation that must be met in order to for homeschoolers to play sports, which makes playing for those public schools extremely difficult.
But, before we get to the law in more detail, let’s first look at the background . . .
Before we discuss how this legislation affects homeschool athletes, let’s take a look at how it got started.
If you have a homeschool athlete and have researched the topic, you may already be familiar with the Tim Tebow Law.
If you aren’t familiar with the Tim Tebow Law, you may be surprised to learn that a homeschooler is not necessarily excluded from participating in public school sports.
(I know, crazy! Right?)
Each state individually determines if homeschoolers are eligible to participate in public school sports.
State regulations and sometimes school boards determine if a homeschooler can play sports for their public schools.
And, some states are having trouble passing the “Tebow laws” legislation.
So, the answer to Can homeschoolers play sports in Texas? will be different than the answer to Can homeschoolers play public school sports in North Carolina? Or, what about Alabama? — and all the answers may differ between all the other states.
For example, according to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Arizona statute states:
“Homeschooled students are allowed to participate in the public schools’ interscholastic activities ‘in the same manner’ as pupils who are enrolled in the public schools.”
There are states where homeschoolers cannot play public school sports.
There are other states that prohibit homeschoolers from participating in public school sports at all.
California statute specifically states:
“California Interscholastic Federation prohibits homeschoolers from playing on public school teams.”
But, can homeschoolers play sports in Georgia?
Or, can homeschoolers play sports in Texas?
Or, what about other states?
Again, that all depends on state laws.
So, why do some public schools allow homeschoolers the ability to participate in public school sports while others do not?
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THIS IS PART 17 IN OUR SERIES FOR NEW HOMESCHOOLERS.
Enter: Tim Tebow Law
You probably know Tim Tebow from the NFL.
However, DID YOU KNOW:
Tim Tebow was a Florida homeschooler who played public school football (very, very well).
He went on to play college football at University of Florida, won the Heisman Trophy, and then on to have a successful career in the National Football League (NFL).
Because of Tim Tebow’s success, by 2014, 28 states had adopted “Equal Access Athletics” bills, also referred to as the “Tim Tebow Law.”
What the Tebow Bill means for Homeschooling:
Tim Tebow’s success paved the way for a widespread review of athletics in order to allow homeschoolers to play sports in public school districts.
The schools gained powerful athletes and also homeschoolers had the ability to utilize their athletic talents at local public schools.
HOMESCHOOL STATISTICS: As of 2017, 22 states allow homeschoolers to participate in public sports.
In those states that don’t have “Equal Access” bills, the school, school board, or school district has the ability to decide if the homeschooler can play sports at the public school.
“Although specific requirements vary from state to state, they generally include:
1) being in compliance with the state homeschool law,
2) meeting the same eligibility requirements (residence, age, etc.) as public school students, and
3) submitting verification that the student is passing his or her core subjects.”
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What states allow homeschoolers to play public school sports?
States That Allow Homeschoolers to Play Sports at Public Schools
Each state has different regulations regarding homeschoolers participating in public school sport activities. Some states openly show hostility toward homeschooling (looking at you West Virginia) by making a show of denying the bill.
So, be sure to check the information for your state if you’re interested in your homeschooler playing public school sports.
What states have passed the Tim Tebow law?
Currently, these states allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports under “Equal Access” (the Tim Tebow Law):
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
IMPORTANT: Other states—NOT LISTED HERE—DO ALLOW homeschoolers to play public school sports, but there are other additional (and sometimes rigorous) requirements for those states and homeschoolers may have a difficult time playing sports in those states.
For example, states like Ohio, Missouri, and Nebraska passed legislation for the Tim Tebow Law allowing homeschooled students to play public school sports, but the homeschooler must be partially enrolled in the public school for some classes.
Can homeschoolers get athletic scholarships?
YES! Colleges and institutes regularly admit homeschooled students and offer them scholarships, including athletic scholarships. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recognize homeschoolers, making them eligible for athletic scholarships. Homeschooled students interested in athletic scholarships should contact the colleges of interest (as early as possible) and learn more about their specific athletic requirements for the sport of interest and what paperwork is required for eligibility determination. Additionally, inquire whether the college is a member of either the NCAA or the NAIA, both of which help execute standards for accepting college athletes.
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Homeschool Sports Participation Alternatives
Even if your state does not allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports, don’t give up!
There are plenty of other places to get homeschooled kids involved in sports and fitness.
For example, check with your local YMCA, other community sports complexes, or even search online for homeschool sports programs near me.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask a school or organization to add a homeschooling sports class to their offerings.
The swim class my daughter attends is at a high school that has one of the best competitive swim teams in the state.
This public high school offers homeschool swim classes during the day when the school’s pool is not being used by the school or swim team.
So, we receive the same instruction from excellent coaches, only with smaller classes at more affordable rates.
If you are only looking for a homeschool physical education class to keep your kids active or meet homeschool PE requirements for your state, there are typically plenty of those in any area.
(Just search for them online or on Facebook.)
We were fortunate enough to find a free homeschool physical education class at a local church one time each week with a former physical education teacher and soccer coach.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions on whether your homeschool student can play sports!
You CAN find a way to get your homeschool athletes involved in sports, you’ll just need to do some research for your area.