The central element is the home and the nuclear family. Every family makes decisions on gathering the best resources and blending them into an education which honors their family convictions and their child's unique destiny. Some use very few books while others amass huge libraries. Some use videos, software, co-ops, and community libraries. Some rely on grandparents' input and others involve their church or others in their communities.
In sports, we assign teams by their age, academics, or other standards. Varsity, in our context, refers to the ages of 14-18, or the equivalent of 9-12 grade and pursuing a high school common education.
A national consensus forbids athletes if they are not still earnestly pursuing a high school completion and under the age of 19 at the start of the athletic school year. About half of the 50 states allow a learning disabled athlete to play as a 19 year old, as long as he is still within in his 4 years of prep sports participation.
They are also often limited to 4 years of varsity competition, but that standard hasn't always forbidden an '8th grader' from participating. This is still a gray area.
What is clear is that an athlete's academic status is essential to his team's credibility. An ineligible athlete jeopardizes the entire team's eligibility.
Just as 2 or more institutional schools occasionally form co-op teams, Upstart homeschoolers often show hospitality to other varsity athletes who were also kept from playing on a team.
Just as the Ponte Vedra football team didn't cease to be a public high school team when Tim Tebow was accepted onto the roster, a homeschool football team doesn't loose its identity merely by accepting another athlete join them because he didn't have an opportunity at his school. A team's identity is reflected by the majority of it's roster. If most of the athletes came from a particular academy, then that is it's essential identity. If there is no majority of any kind, then it's a club team.
There is a vast acceptance of the standard of requiring a majority of home-educated varsity athletes, in order to be recognized by the term. Most current homeschool football players play on a team with a co-op roster.
Setting up a system of preseason roster reporting might be a reasonable solution. But let's face it... We homeschoolers are very independent folk. We really don't enjoy demands, deadlines, appeals, and worst of all; rejections.
This week several homeschool coaches are getting together in Panama City Beach. They may be able to start the conversation in a constructive effort to resolve some sticky issues.