‘Tebow bill’ stirs up Wisconsin high school sports

A kerfuffle in Wisconsin is shedding a bit of a spotlight on this question: “What’s the role of school sports?”

The problem is a bill that includes a provision allowing home-schooled and charter school students to play on sports teams in their public school district.

This, by the way, is a law in Minnesota, which seems to exist without any major problems. But in Wisconsin, it’s being called an attack on public schools.

“That is going backward on what high school activities and athletics are supposed to be about,” Stephen Schiell, Amery school district administrator, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “And it’s frustrating.”

What are they supposed to be about anyway?

“The reason for sports in schools is to keep kids in school … it’s the carrot they have to keep kids in school,” Wade Labecki, of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, said. “This is a way to get them out the door and still play.”

He contends that public school students who see home-schooled students playing on their teams would be less motivated to continue their education.

Schiell says it could lead to situations where a student who isn’t in a public school displaces a kid who is.

“They could be bumping a whole lot of people,” Schiell said. “Parents could find their child watching from the bench.”

Home schoolers apparently don’t like the bill either because they fear it will lead to more government intrusion into home schooling, the Journal says. A home-schooled kid would have to meet the same academic requirements to play on a team as a public school student.

Wisconsin isn’t alone in the current debate. In Alabama, lawmakers are considering the so-called “Tim Tebow bill” allowing home-schooled kids to play on public school teams.

In states where home-schooled students are allowed to participate in public school athletics — Minnesota is one of 22 states that do — only about 3-5 percent are interested in doing so, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.