Have you ever wondered, “Can homeschoolers play sports in public schools?” (Or, what about if homeschoolers can play sports in private schools?) If you have a homeschool athlete and have done research on the topic, you may already be familiar with the Tim Tebow Law.
But, Let’s Take a Step Back for a Moment . . .
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.
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.
However, there are other states that prohibit homeschoolers from participating in public school sports.
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 school sports?
Enter Tim Tebow Law
Tim Tebow was a Florida homeschooler who played public school football (very, very well).
He went on to play college football and then 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 called “Tim Tebow Law.”
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 homeschoolers had the ability to utilize their athletic talents.
As of 2017, 22 states allow homeschoolers to participate in public sports. In those states that don’t have “Equal Access” bills, the school or school district has the ability to decide if the homeschooler can play sports at the 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.”
States That Allow Homeschoolers to Play Sports at Public Schools
Each state has different regulations regarding homeschoolers participating in public school sport activities. Check the information for your state if you’re interested in that path for your homeschooler.
These states allow homeschoolers to participate in public school sports under “Equal Access” (the Tim Tebow Law).
Other states (not listed here) allow homeschoolers to play public school sports, but there are other additional (and sometimes rigorous) requirements for those states.
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 or other community sports complexes.
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 physical education class to keep your kids active, there are typically plenty of those in any state.
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.
You can find a way to get your homeschool athletes involved in sports, you’ll just need to do some research for your area.