This has actually been a really hot topic in the homeschool community for some time. There are many parents who want their children to be allowed to participate in public school sports, but not attend public school. The other camp says, "You can't have it both ways" and doesn't want that to be a connection because then the public schools could make demands of the homeschoolers. The homeschool crowd historically has been fiercely protective of their rights. They wanted the schools to leave them alone, and in return agreed to not ask anything of the public schools. Many felt it was a slippery slope to start allowing regulations to come in because it could end with lack of freedom, which had been so hard won. (You should read up on the history of homeschooling in America.)
I can easily see both sides of the argument. Part of the problem is the arguers may live in completely different types of communities. If I lived in a rural small town with few opportunities for activities, I can see wanting my children to be allowed to participate in school functions. I might know half the teachers at the school and feel that there would not be a problem with my son playing football at the high school, but receiving his instruction from me. After all, everyone knows everyone where I live.
But I can also see someone living in a big city. If they allow your daughter to play basketball on the high school team, they may require her shot record and test scores to prove she's eligible. They don't know you, so you are more a paperwork issue to them than anything. Now that those requirements have been placed, who's to say that next year they won't require that 50% of her classes be at the school in order to participate. Give away a few freedoms, and soon you have lost them all.
So What Did They Decide?
As it turns out, many states do allow homeschoolers to participate in sports (and some other activities), but with varying requirements. Some do not allow it at all. The Home School Legal Defense Association's website has good information on each state. Simply click on your state, scroll down to "Public School Access for Homeschoolers" to see what your state laws are. Be sure to read to the bottom of the article as it includes important information about the wording of laws.
My State Doesn't Allow It
So if you have found out that you do not agree with your state's laws regarding homeschoolers and sports, you have some options: 1. Deal with it. Your family must decide how important it is to you that your children be allowed to play school sports. I understand that sports can be connected to scholarships so this truly is an important decision for some families. 2. Move. Yes, really. There are some families who have moved to another state in order to be where laws were more friendly towards homeschoolers. 3. Get involved in other sports groups. If public school sports are not available to you, perhaps a homeschool league or other group sporting association would do the trick. I think it all depends on if your child is playing for fun or for their future. There are many opportunities to play sports that are not associated with public schools. 4. Homeschool the early years, and then transition to public school. Some families choose this option. They feel they can give their child a firm foundation and good start in life by spending more time with them in their younger years, transitioning them to public school sometime in middle school so that they can be eligible to try out for teams in the later grades.
The Bottom Line
If sports are important to your family, this will be something you need to consider before beginning home education. One of the only negative things about homeschooling to me is that parents have to spend so much money for their children to participate in extra-curricular activities. But it is a sacrifice my family is willing to make for the opportunity to educate our children. Each family will have to decide that on their own.