Image by jmtimages via Flickr
One of the big homeschooling debates that is currently raging in my home state of North Carolina is the question of whether homeschooled athletes should be allowed to play on the same sports teams as the public school students. A few states have already been through this debate, with mixed results.
Out of the fifty states, only 24 of those allow students to participate in extracurricular activities within the public school system. That means that out of the approximately two million homeschoolers nationwide, less than half are eligible to play team sports - - even though their families support those sports with their tax dollars.
Of course, there are strong opinions on each side of the issue. Homeschoolers whose children are interested in participating in athletics often have very few options. Most recreational league sports only go up through middle school ages, and homeschool leagues are difficult to organize in states where homeschooled populations are spread out. They are also costly, with each sport often costing the participant $400-$500, whereas participating in public school sports is always free. Homeschoolers also feel frustrated by the fact that college athletic recruiters usually only concentrate on public school athletes.
Opponents of the idea feel that allowing homeschoolers to play on the same teams as public school students is unfair. School superintendents often say that if the homeschoolers are not subject to the same requirements as the school students (such as keeping grade point averages), then they should not be allowed to play. And parents of public school athletes often argue that talented homeschoolers could steal positions on the team that could go to a public schooled student.
The HSLDA has remained neutral on the issue. Although they understand homeschoolers desire to participate in public school sports, they also believe that the more they get involved with government-run entities, the stronger the possibility of restrictions being placed on homeschooling in general.
What about you? What are your opinions of the rights of homeschoolers to play on public school sports teams?