Poor Sports

Home-Schooled Kids Shouldn't Be Playing High-School Athletics.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE runs a regular feature called "This Week's Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us," chronicling the abuses and excesses which are turning the once-uplifting world of sports into the sweaty armpit it is today. Being a sometimes-contributor to their magazine, I've got a doozy for them, and it's happening right here in Rillito City.

Last week in a newspaper account of the local prep swimming regionals, there was a matter-of-fact piece about some home-schooled kid who is swimming for Cholla High School. The average sports fan probably saw the article and skipped it because the word "Wildcat" wasn't featured prominently in the headline. A good sports fan looked at it, saw that it involved swimming, and moved on. I read it, aghast, and saw it for what it is -- the beginning of the end for high-school sports in Arizona.

It took explorers decades to trace the mighty Mississippi back to its headwaters in Lake Itasca. When Arizona prep sports comes crashing down, it will be easy to trace the source. The blame will fall on something called House Bill 2129, originally passed by the House, okayed by the Senate, and then signed into law April 24, 1999, by Gov. Jane Dee "I Was Just Kidding About Supporting Public Education" Hull.

What the bill basically says is that because of a handful of selfish, short-sighted people who want to have their cake and eat it, too, there are no longer any rules governing high-school sports in Arizona.

Let me make this as clear as possible. I hate home schooling. With the lone exception of cases where the child is so severely physically or mentally handicapped as to preclude the possibility of mainstreaming, I consider home schooling to be a subtle form of child abuse. Furthermore, I believe that every single case of home schooling involves certain amounts of either racism, paranoia, religious intolerance or combinations thereof.

If a home-schooling parent were to search her soul (assuming she could locate it), she'd realize that the only reason she's keeping little Jacob at home is so that he won't have to associate with my Hispanic daughter or my Catholic son or my straight A's kids who are actually allowed to watch TV and read dangerous books like 1984 and Huck Finn.

However, having said all that, I still believe it's a parent's right to home school a kid. Like a lot of other stupid things, it's perfectly legal. Lord knows those kids don't present a threat to my kids getting a scholarship. I don't care who it is, there isn't a parent alive who could educate a kid fully and properly in all subject areas. The reason there are so few home-schooled kids is that most parents are smart enough not to even try.

I feel sorry for the kids, but we all have our burdens to bear. What matters here is that a bunch of whiny, selfish, bigoted people went to the state Legislature and said, "We keep our kids home so they don't have to associate with Negroes. But now we want you to pass a law which allows us to circumvent all the rules and allow little Jacob to play on a high-school team free from such encumbrances as grades and...oh yeah, attendance!!"

And the kid-hating idiots in the Legislature bent over for their quasi-Christian brethren and took it. This law, if unchanged, will mean the end of high-school sports just to satisfy a vocal few who want to have everything except responsibility.

You might say, "What's the big deal? It's just one kid swimming for Cholla." But next year it'll be a couple kids playing football at Santa Rita and some basketball players at Mt. View. It'll grow exponentially because the benefits-without-responsibility angle is irresistible.

These will be kids who don't have to follow the rules. They don't have to get up in the morning and go to school all day before practice. Most importantly, they don't have to study a damn thing. When other kids are sweating out progress reports and mid-term grades, all these kids have to do is get Mom or Dad to sign a form. Do you think the parent(s) will think twice about signing that form, when not signing it would mean not only that Selfish Boy doesn't get to play, but would also serve as an indictment of the parents' profound inability to educate their own kids?

Pretty soon the kids who stay home all day (and work on their games?) are nudging out the kids who have to go to school all day and do mundane things, like show up to class and learn. Then you've got entire teams of kids who get up around 10 a.m., go to the gym for a couple hours, hang out for lunch, then go to school practice with an enormous edge over the kids who have been busting their butts in the classroom all day. What does that teach a kid?

All of a sudden, the state championship game pits the Mesa Home-Schooled All-Stars against the Tucson Home-Schooled All-Stars. Both "schools" are of the charter variety, located in abandoned liquor stores in strip malls.

Or how about this scenario: Little Johnny has the big game coming up next week, but he has four F's on his progress report. He can't become eligible again in time, so he drops out of school, gets mom to sign all the necessary papers that he's now being home schooled and that he's doing just fine in all his classes.

If there is anybody out there who says they don't know of any parents willing to do this sort of thing, come up real close so I can call you a liar to your face.

This is a disaster in selfish yuppie clothing, me-first thinking which will tear at the fabric of our schools and, in turn, our society. With luck, it might be struck down in court, but I'd hate to rely on luck over something this important.

I fear for our schools and our children. God save us from the Reformers.