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Homeschoolers could play Public School Sports with Tim Tebow Bill

Source: Waaytv FirstNews
By: Rebecca Shlien
March 28, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Many successful college and professional athletes got their start playing on high school teams. In Alabama, promising players who are homeschooled don't get that chance. Now, some local families and lawmakers are trying to change that. 

Supporters have been trying since 2005 to get a law passed that would allow homeschooled students to participate on public school teams. Some have actually stopped homeschooling just so their children could play sports. But we spoke with one family who wishes they didn't have to choose between education and athletics. 

When he was six years old, James Spivey fell in love with football. He says, “We live in Alabama, so everybody's a football fan, and that's always just been the sport that I loved."

The high school senior also devotes himself to God with a religiously-based homeschool education. 

His father Reggie Spivey explains, “We wanted to focus our son's education on Jesus Christ. We wanted that to be the centerpiece of his education and we wanted to have academic excellence. To get the combination we needed, we just really needed to homeschool to be able to do it."

As a homeschooler, James Spivey couldn't play football for a public school. Instead, he played for a homeschool team where he excelled as captain and MVP. Still, he says the situation wasn't perfect: “It was really fun to do, but I thought a lot of times I wished that my friends could have seen me play more, just because all of our games were at least three hours away."

Things might have been different for Spivey if he lived outside Alabama. In 24 states, homeschooled students are permitted to play public school sports. The law is named after Tim Tebow, the famed home-schooled football player who led his public high school team to win a state championship in 2005.

In Huntsville, Reggie Spivey says his son and several teammates would have jumped at the chance to follow in Tebow's footsteps: “They're solid young men, and I think they would have been good for the team much like Tim Tebow was for his team."

In Alabama, state education officials oppose the bill, and year after year it's failed to take hold in the legislature. But Reggie Spivey hopes this year will be different. He explains, “Where you sit in the classroom, whether it's in your home or at some government building shouldn't have anything to do with whether or not you can play football."

While it's too late for James, the Spiveys hope Alabama lawmakers will give other homeschoolers the same opportunities that public school athletes enjoy, including the ability to go after college scholarships.

James Spivey says, "I'm always going to look back and wish that maybe I could have gone to a bigger high school and done a little bit better and work a little bit harder, and make one of those teams, and you know, make that big play in the Iron Bowl and win the game. But that's just not going to be able to happen."

The Tim Tebow bill is expected to go before a senate committee once the legislature reconvenes after its spring break.