Beginning this fall, homeschoolers will be allowed to participate on high school sports teams in Indiana - provided they enroll in at least one class at a given school and meet other academic criteria. The Indiana High School Athletic Association made that determination Monday, two years after the issue was taken up and then dropped by the state's General Assembly. The new rule, effective with the 2013-14 school year, also applies to students at non-accredited private schools.

"The IHSAA has always been about participation," IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox told the Evansville Courier & Press before Monday's vote. "This is a chance to extend that opportunity to participate. We aren't grounded in not allowing homeschooled students to play. Now, they can choose to play under these conditions, or they can choose not to. They have a choice."

Some estimates place the number of homeschooled students in Indiana at more than 33,000 - far more than in, say, West Virginia, but significantly fewer than in other midwestern states like Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Approximately half of all states allow homeschooled students to participate in high school sports in some way, but athletics administrators have expressed concerns about the IHSAA's decision.

"There's so much social interaction and reasons for kids to get involved outside the classroom," Jon Zwitt, athletic director at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., told the Courier & Press. "If all of a sudden there was a student that was outside the building and just showed up at the end of the school day, it makes it difficult because it's like an outsider coming in. I think over time they would be accepted, but it would just be different, and the students would have to get through that."

According to TheStatehouseFile.com, homeschooled students in Indiana must - in addition to being enrolled for a minimum of one class per day - pass a physical exam, participate in the required number of practices for the sport, have been homeschooled for at least the past three years, and complete all standardized tests required of public school students and submit grade information.

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I hope California moves in this direction.
In response to Jon Zwitt: All my kids (7) played sports in the community leagues in our city, i.e. Little League, etc. Once they completed the oldest age group they watched from the sidelines as their friends continued to play at the local high schools. It's not as though they don't know anybody or don't have relationships with anybody on the team if they were to ' just show up at the end of the day'. Several times we were asked if our kids would be playing on the high school team and we had to stay true to our convictions and say no. Also, in California homeschool teams must be CIF members (and meet their requirements) in order to play high school teams of which 99% are CIF members. Homeschool teams are few and far between which requires traveling greater distances and additional costs for facilities & officials. Many schools will not allow their facilities to be used by anyone else. Homeschool parents pay taxes just like everyone else to support public schools, yet cannot have access to what our taxes help pay for? Good for Indiana; you've done the right thing!
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Yes, Jon Zwitt's comment is based on a stereotype that homeschoolers stay home all day and have no friends. One of my family's biggest problems as homeschoolers now that my kids are teens is balancing all the social actifvities they have with the studies they need to be doing.

Zwitt is also slapping the faces of community sports organizers with his suggestion that the bonds that form and the socializing that takes place in committee sports leagues has no value.

My own kids play for travel teams. My son's football team goes to 3 states and last year was ranked 4th in the nation at the end of the regular season--but isn't allowed to participate in Sectionals because it's not attached to a school. I would much rather the IHSAA allow homeschool teams to compete rather than cherry-pick our outstanding teams. Is this experience he has worth nothing because it didn't come through a government school? Does anyone really think that? Because it's the unconscious assumption behind arguments like Zwitt's.

This deal is a good one for schools, though, because by requiring the ISTEPs, that are meant to evaluate government schools, the schools get to count our kids' scores. We outscore them nationwide in every standardized test, so the schools do get to count these higher scores as the product of their schools, when they are the result of dedicated parents giving up their time and income to educate their kids.
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I'm ambiguous on the topic, but I always love the argument, 'We pay taxes so we should be allowed to' then you fill in the blank for whatever the topic is. Most of the time it's public education. I pay taxes for a lot of things, it doesn't mean I get to use them whenever I want to. Do I just get to use the squad car for transportation when I need it because I pay taxes? How about the mayor's office for some after hours study time, I pay taxes! I mean, really.... I know it sounds far-fetched but it gets old.
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I wholeheartedly agree with Brian's viewpoint. To stretch this 'argument' further, if I am traveling from LA to NY, should I not request the use of Air Force One because I pay national income tax? This is the type of 'logic' that the argument uses.
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To Brian and Craig, Your viewpoint is rediculous. We do pay public taxes and our local school uses this money. Our children are entitled to free education. All we are saying is let us take advantage of the education system. As sports do offer a great education. How would you feel if you needed the police but couldn't call, or wanted to express your views to the mayor by he decided you didn't pay enough taxes to listen.