Like many states, Washington has an Equal Access law. Homeschoolers and private school students legally have the right to participate on their public school’s sports teams, and it is easy to exercise that right. For those whose family schedule does not accommodate the school’s practice schedule, other options exist. Some homeschool support groups organize sports teams. Sports are available through the YMCA. Kids who want to swim can join swim teams at the public pool. Teens who want to golf can sign up for league play at their local golf course. Those who are interested in rodeo can ride all summer. Most communities have a Parks & Recreation department that includes kids’ sports. These are just a few examples. Kids who really want to participate in a sport can do it even if they aren’t on a school team.
In some states, things are not so simple. There are people who oppose non-public students participating on public school sports teams. Their argument seems to be that public school services are an all-or-nothing package.
Other people argue that public schools are funded by taxpayer dollars just as the public library, or police and fire protection are funded. We use these services paid for by our tax dollars when we want them, and don’t use them when we don’t want them.
The issue, then, is not really about sports. The issue is the nature of our public school system. Why do we have public schools and what is their purpose? Is it because the government has a compelling interest in having an educated citizenry? Is it because we want to build spirit and loyalty within local communities? Is it just because that’s what we grew up with?
If you’re in a state or district that only permits public school students to play on the school’s team, go back to your written goals list. Is participation on the public school sports team one of your goals? If not, then find another way to play sports. If yes, why is it a goal? What is the motivation behind the goal? You might find that the goal should be rewritten in more general sports-participation language, in which case the above comments on alternatives apply. Or you might discover that the goal of playing on a public school team is a strong enough goal that you are willing to jump through whatever hoops are necessary – including enrolling in public school.