The Hamm family was homeschooling in Tennessee when their son Warner announced his wish to participate in basketball at his local public middle school.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association (TSSAA) allows homeschoolers to participate in public school sports, so the Hamm family assumed they would not face any roadblocks from the district when they signed their son up for basketball tryouts.

After filling out the required documents for participation, however, officials told the Hamm family that Warner would be unable to take part after all. To add insult to injury, this devastating notification came just days before basketball tryouts.

The school’s reasoning was that Warner’s participation in basketball had to be “approved” by the TSSAA before he could practice with the team, and obtaining approval from the TSSAA would take at least until July. Since tryouts for basketball began immediately after school ended in May, Warner was effectively told he could not try out for the team.

HSLDA with the Assist

Thankfully, we were able to help.

We wrote a letter to the principal of Warner’s middle school. We noted that TSSAA rules do not mandate that homeschooled students receive “approval” before being allowed to participate, nor do they regulate practices that take place during the summer.

We also explained that since TSSAA guidelines wouldn’t prevent Warner from participating, the school was without legal authority to prevent Warner from trying out for the team.

At the same time, Warner’s mother reached out to her school district after communicating with HSLDA, emphasizing our assertion that there was nothing in the TSSAA rules that would prevent Warner from trying out.

The middle school relented, and Warner was allowed to attend tryouts.

We’re grateful for the middle school’s willingness to correct their error quickly and allow Warner to participate. We are happy to help homeschool students who are treated unfairly simply because they are being homeschooled.