Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: 'Tim Tebow Bill' will allow home schoolers to play in UIL, get seen by recruiters
It can be difficult for a football player to catch the attention of college recruiters when he plays for a small school. But it can be almost impossible if he doesn’t play for any school.
That’s why Micah Sherman, a home-schooler who is headed to Division II McMurry to play receiver, almost ended up at Justin Northwest last year. His parents knew their son would face a higher level of competition and get more recruiting attention if he played at the Class 5A school instead of for the Home School Athletic Association.
“We really did debate whether it would be better to just send him over there,” said Heidi Sherman, Micah’s mom. “I think if he could’ve played for the high school, he would’ve taken advantage of it.”
That opportunity might be available to home-school students in the future. A week ago, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would allow home-school students to participate in sports and other University Interscholastic League activities at the school in their attendance zone. The legislation still must be approved in the House, but no home-school participation bill has passed either chamber in the past.
“We’ve been working on this for about 15 years,” said Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition. “A lot of time with legislation, it’s just a matter of timing. This is the first time we’ve seen the bill move this far.”
The bill will need to pass in the House in the final month of the legislation session. If it does, it would go into effect for the 2013-14 school year.
Supporters call it the “Tim Tebow Bill” in reference to the former home-schooler who won the Heisman Trophy while a quarterback at Florida. Tebow, who has played sparingly in the NFL, was allowed to play for his local high school football team.
Backers of the Tebow bill point out that parents of home-schooled kids pay property taxes that fund school activities and facilities. Opponents say that families who choose not to be part of a school’s academic program should not get to be part of the athletic programs.
Hebron football coach and athletic director Brian Brazil, who was president of the Texas High School Coaches Association in 2012, acknowledged that most parents have the best of intentions when home-schooling their children. But he’s worried that the new law could be abused because the state does not oversee or regulate home-schooling.
“If my son can’t pass, I’ll just pull him out and home-school,” Brazil said. “What parent is going to flunk his kid?”
If the bill does become law, Texas would become the 28th state to allow home-schooled students to participate in the same activities and athletics as those in public school. Brazil said he doesn’t think coaches would have a big issue with it.
“It’s just going to be awkward getting used to it,” he said. “From 8:15 to 2 p.m., they’re not here, and then they show up for athletic period.”
Brazil said he would welcome any home-schooler in the Hebron attendance zone.
“If Tebow shows up here,” he said, “I’ll take him.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon