Coaches not fans of Tebow bill

Published 9:52 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

State Sen. Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) is sponsoring a bill to allow home-schooled students to participate in athletic programs at both public and non-public schools, but no one seems to have grasped just what exactly the passage of the bill would mean.

Some might argue home-schooled students should not be able to sleep late, stay home all day then show up for football practice in the afternoon. Home-school proponents counter that those students aren’t lazy or incapable of completing the same school work as their peers and shouldn’t be punished for choosing a different educational route because, after all, they and their parents still pay taxes.

What we’re all missing is what happens when home-schooled students do show up for practice. Coaches, especially those that work in the more recognized and pressurized sports like football, basketball and softball, are masters of their domain. They demand complete control over their teams and resent any meddling from outsiders.

Success often requires this autonomy. So, neither politicians nor even high school principals would have a say in how coaches treat home-schooled students, and they would be treated differently.

“My thing is that my guys are here all day,” one local football coach said. “I see how they act in class, and they’re out there for fourth block working out every day. I don’t know anything about a kid that’s at home all day.” That unfamiliarity will result in less of an opportunity for playing time.

Tim Tebow, the college football superstar the bill is nicknamed after, is the exception, as Jemison High School Principal Alan Thompson pointed out to the Advertiser on Sunday. Tebow is an exceptional athlete, and any football coach would be thrilled to have him—home-schooled or not.

But the average home-schooler who wants to participate in a sport at a public school wouldn’t be allowed to compete on an even playing field.