Just Say No to Sports Access

By Rick G. Boyer

Should home educated kids play on public school sports teams? I say no.

Yes, I know about Tim Tebow. And I consider him a hero.

Yes, I know you pay taxes that support public schools. And I agree that it’s unfair for you to be denied access to programs that you pay for.

But I think it is very unwise to send your kids to play on their sports teams.

Have you ever been in a supermarket and seen a friendly lady giving away little chunks of cheese or sausage on toothpicks? You know what she’s there for. She’s there to give you a free sample of a product the store carries. The store hopes that you will like the sample and want more. If it works, you will buy a product you probably weren’t planning on buying when you entered the store.

Public school programs work that way, too. Home schooled students participate in sports or music or drama and have a good time. Some of those excel and get the added pleasure of being praised and admired for their ability. And suddenly public school is no longer threatening or sinister to them. They have seen its very best side and they wonder what else they’re missing by going to school at home.

They hear from their new friends about all the fun they have at other school functions. The pep rallies, the parties, the dances. Sounds pretty good, especially if you don’t know about the down side.

Those of us who fought the battles for educational freedom in the 1980’s don’t have a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings for the public school system. We know enough to know that it was intentionally designed to break down a child’s loyalty to parents, siblings, God, America. That’s why we don’t care to expose our kids to the bright side of that system. We don’t see the need of giving them the free samples that may make them want more.

What about Tim Tebow? Home schooled kid who won the Heisman Trophy and is now a pro quarterback, sharing his faith admirably and unashamedly? As I said, he’s a hero to me.

What about the other kids who have played public school sports and have not been sucked in? I know a homeschooling mom who protested to me that her boys played public school football and not only resisted the ungodly pressures but actually witnessed effectively to their teammates. She’s proud of her boys and I’m proud of her for raising such boys.

I still think sports access is a bad idea.

Why? Because for every Tim Tebow who kept his faith and stuck with home education until college, there are others who took the bait and pressured their parents to let them attend public school full time. I don’t know of any statistics on this, but I’ve been in the home schooling movement for over 30 years and I’ve observed enough to believe that for every Tebow there are several kids who got sucked in. Not everybody who tastes the free samples at Kroger buys the cheese, but enough do that Kroger finds it worthwhile to keep the friendly lady at her post.

I’ve spent thirty years watching home schoolers take the road back to Egypt, succumbing to the preconceptions they absorbed in their own youth and the enticements offered by schools and “schoolish” programs.

I’ve seen support groups sponsor homeschool proms, encouraging young ladies to dance to romantic music and dim lighting in the embrace of young men whose hormones are at raging high tide. Just what spiritual or educational benefit does that provide? Or is the real purpose to allow some moms to vicariously experience once again a highlight of their own high school days?

I’ve seen co-ops morph over time into quasi-schools at which parents dropped off their children for lessons and activities, sometimes for a whole day. How does that enhance the parent-child relationship?

Some will say that sports access gives Christian kids a chance to witness to public school kids. I say that if we can’t find a way to reach them without sharing their locker room culture, we’re pretty short on creativity—or motivation.

Some will protest that sports provide the opportunity to win college scholarships. That’s true, but again there are many, many ways to earn scholarship money. And Bill Gates didn’t find it necessary to obtain a college degree anyway.

And all this avoids the question of whether playing games is the best use of time. The same hours could be used in ministry, work, study or family activities.

God bless Tim Tebow. I’m glad he has succeeded. But I’ve seen far too many families take the road back to Egypt. Tim is the exception, not the rule.

Just say no to cheese on toothpicks.