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Homeschoolers and Sports Eligibility

The question of homeschoolers and sports participation on public school teams continues to be a contentious issue within the homeschool community.

Pro-sports involvement families believe that their homeschool child should have the opportunity to compete with their peers. Many of these parents see it as a benefit of being a state taxpayer. Oftentimes these families have a talented athlete whose chance of earning a college sports-related scholarship is tied to their competing in a sanctioned league during the high school years.

Families who oppose homeschoolers participating in any publicly funded school activity usually make no distinction between academic, extra-curricular, or sports-related activities. The argument from this side of the table generally says that once one homeschooler begins to submit to extraneous verification and certification of their homeschool curricular program, little time will be lost in rewriting Maryland regulations requiring all families to meet more onerous compliance requirements.

Public School Sports and the Law

Maryland law governs who may participate in public school sports at the high school level. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) has been given authority by the Maryland State Department of Education to oversee the rules and policies affecting high school sports competitions. You can read current Maryland regulations pertaining to sports participation in public schools.

MPSSAA Handbook on Eligibility

Students shall be officially registered and attending a MPSSAA member school. They may represent only the school in which they are registered and at which it is anticipated they will complete their graduation requirements.”

MPSSAA and Homeschoolers

Current MPSSAA bylaws establish very specific rules for public high school sports teams, including:

  • No nonpublic school students, including homeschoolers, may participate in any public school sports programs
  • No nonpublic school sports teams, including homeschoolers, may join the MPSSAA
  • Individual MPSSAA teams may only play against other MPSSAA sports teams
  • MPSSAA team coaches must be a teacher within the county’s school district

In addition to barring nonpublic school and homeschool athletes from joining public school teams, MPSSAA also restricts certain public school student athlete participation. Specifically, individual schools may not allow public school students who live in different counties to play on their teams. Additionally, in-county athletes who attend one school may not play for a sports team at a different school in their district.

Schools who place a student on the team roster in violation of this rule put themselves at risk for a formal complaint Possible penalties may include forfeiting all games in which the ineligible athlete played in.

Last modified on September 13, 2019

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