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Home-Schooled Students: Should They Be Able to Play School Sports?

Indiana legislature poised to become 22nd state to enact home school-eligibility law

The Indiana legislature just brought home school students one step closer to gaining interscholastic athletic eligibility this week, as a home-school eligibility bill was voted out of committee, and is moving toward a vote in time to go into effect for the next school year.  If enacted, the law would make Indiana the twenty-second state to allow home school students to play for a high school sports team. Soccer players chasing ball

The home school lobby has been increasingly successful in generating sympathy for its constituents. Indeed, many people agree that home school students deserve to be a part of a school community for athletics so they can express the totality of their skills, talents, and individual expressions.

Many people also agree that parents should have the ability to choose whether to educate their child at home without losing the privileges of a "normal" childhood, including interscholastic sports.

Arguments on both sides

But there are, of course, two sides to the story.

The movement toward home-school athletic eligibility puts public schools in a strange position. After all, the local public school is being asked to accommodate students whose parents have, by electing to home school their children, essentially declared that the public school is not good enough for their kids.  For students who so openly refuse to become part of a public school's community to contend at the same time that they should be allowed to join that school's community for the limited purpose of being on a sports team could be viewed as hypocritical and trying to have things both ways.

While one can sympathize with the home school student who can't play school sports, one can also sympathize with schools that have to accommodate someone who doesn't want to be part of the school and its community. One also has to feel some sympathy with those students who lose playing time, a starting spot on a team, or even get cut when the home school student takes their roster spot. I, for one, would not be very happy about going to a school and not being able to play because someone who doesn't even go to the school beat me out. I also think that most people believe that when they're watching a school team, the players go to the school.

This may be a problem to which there is no good solution, but Indiana is taking us one step closer to the day where home schoolers playing for the local high school is a reality.

Posted February 20, 2011