Virginia Advances 'Tim Tebow Bill'

  • February 09, 2012
  • By John Gramlich
Legislation that would allow home-schooled students to play on varsity sports teams at public high schools cleared the Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday (February 8), leading the sponsor of the measure to celebrate by taking a knee and "Tebowing" on the floor of the chamber.

The legislation has been nicknamed the "Tim Tebow bill" after the Denver Broncos quarterback, who was home-schooled in Florida, one of 22 states that already give home-schooled students some form of access to public school classes or sports teams, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Tebow, who is known for taking a knee and praying during football games, has voiced support for so-called "equal access" measures in other states, and The New York Times reports that Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee also are expected to debate versions of the "Tebow bill" this year.

In Virginia, the measure has been controversial. Public school teachers and other education officials, including school superintendents, oppose the legislation for a variety of reasons, including fears that coaches will "game the system" by recruiting home-schooled students to bolster their chances of success on the field, as The Washington Post has reported. Others contend that home-schooled students will take roster spots from public-school students who should have the first right to play on the teams of their choice.

But supporters of the bill, who have introduced it for several years running, believe they may have better chances this year, in part because of the popularity of the measure's namesake, who became the first home-schooled football player ever to win the Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious award for individual players. "The name became a shorthand, and now all the homeschool kids call it that," Delegate Robert Bell, the sponsor of the Virginia legislation, tells Politico. "After we passed it, I did the Tebow on the floor."