“Third time’s the charm”: Lexington lawmaker re-files “Tim Tebow” legislation

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Lexington lawmaker is proposing a bill nicknamed the “Tim Tebow law” again. This is the third time representative Stan Lee has filed legislation that would allow homeschooled kids to play on a sports team at their local public school.

The high school athletic association does not support the bill. It is called the “Tim Tebow” bill because a similar law passed in Florida in 1996 allowing the former NFL quarterback to play for his local high school as a home school student.

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The Kentucky bill calls for homeschoolers to face the same standards public school students do when playing sports, but that is not enough for some people worried about keeping games fair.

Representative Stan Lee, the bill’s author, tells ABC 36’s Veronica Jean Seltzer he has been working on this bill for a while. His “Tim Tebow” bill has not passed the last two years he has proposed it. Lee’s own daughter is homeschooled. He says he wants her and others to have the chance to learn from playing on a team.

“You learn how to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, get better, and move forward and that serves you well in life,” Lee said.

At Henry Clay High School, Blue Devils Head Football Coach Sam Simpson says he understands why some might worry about the proposed law, but he agrees with Lee that letting all kids play is best.

“That teaches them to become a part of society,” Simpson said.

The High School Athletic Association says they have historically opposed bills like this one because “…they are in the business of school-based sports, not school-age sports, and competitive equity is always an issue.”

That is something Blue Devils Cross Country Coach Steven Riley says he is also concerned about.

“You wouldn’t want people trying to abuse the system you know becoming a homeschool student to avoid the accountability that comes with being a student in the regular school,” Riley said.
Lee responds by saying home school players would have to adhere to the same standards, including drug testing and keeping up good grades. He says he is not looking for anything unfair, just an opportunity for some overlooked students.

“It wouldn’t be a guarantee, just an opportunity and that’s all we’re asking for,” Lee said.

The High School Athletic Association says they are happy to sit down with Lee to talk about revising the bill. They also mention in their statement they would like to talk about what they call a lack of standards for home school education that would make it unfair to let those students play.

Here is the statement from commissioner Julian Tacket in full:

“Our Board of Control on behalf of our schools has historically opposed such bills because the Association is in the business of school-based sports, not school-aged sports, and competitive equity is always an issue. Most of those specifics are contained in past blog postings about past bills and proposals.

The sponsor’s passion for the subject is evident as well as his willingness to listen to feedback by the changes made in the current version from past versions. This version is much more targeted to the specific issue of home school participation in high school athletics and sport-activities that our office sponsors.

We are hopeful that he recognizes the open door for revision and enhancement to ensure that there are not unintended consequences. We welcome not only the chance to sit and discuss the issues and technical wording but perhaps further share concerns about the lack of standards for home school education in our Commonwealth that makes equitable implementation of home school participation in our sports and activity programs a major issue for the majority of our member schools.”

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!