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What Are Tebow Laws?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 22, 2015 4:21 PM

He may not be on an NFL roster this season and it's been ten years since he played high school football, but Tim Tebow is still having an impact on how we view the relationship between home schooling and high school sports.

So-called Tim Tebow laws aim to allow homeschooled kids to play on public school athletic teams, as their namesake did in Florida under similar legislation. But passing these laws isn't easy, as a few states have recently found out.

The History of Tebow Laws

Born to evangelical Christian parents, Tebow was homeschooled since birth, but he was allowed to play high school football under what was then known as the Craig Dickinson Act. Passed in 1996 and now known as the Tim Tebow Bill, the law allowed homeschooled kids to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities at public schools as long as they met the same residency requirements as other participants. (Perhaps infamously, Tebow moved to an apartment so he could jump from the Christian academy where he began his career as a tight end to a struggling program where he could play quarterback.)

Back then, many states didn't have similar laws for homeschooled football players. And those states are having a hard time duplicating Florida's statute.

The Future for Homeschooled Sports Players

Alabama has been trying to pass its own Tebow law for almost a decade. Texas just lost out on its own bill, but advocates in West Virginia are trying their luck this year. So why all the pushback?

It's clear that some school superintendants worry about the perception of freeloading kids who aren't contributing to the school financially or socially, yet reaping the benefits of an athletic program. It might also be the feeling that a school's roster spots belong to kids who walk the halls every day.

And then there's the sense of hypocrisy from homeschooling parents; a sense that a public school isn't good enough to educate their children, but it is an acceptable outlet, if not entitlement, to showcase their children's athletic ability.

While some principals and many, many coaches would love to have the next Tim Tebow on their teams, it doesn't appear that state legislatures are as eager to carve out exceptions for students who shun their schools.

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