By Mike Chiari, Bleacher Report
(Bleacher Report) - There has been plenty of negative publicity surrounding quarterback Tim Tebow since being waived by the New York Jets last week, but his success playing in high school is now being used in an effort to gain expanded rights for homeschooled athletes in Texas.
According to Matt Wixon of the Dallas Morning News, the Tim Tebow Bill has been passed by the Texas Senate. Provided it is passed by the Texas House of Representatives and then signed into law, it will allow homeschooled athletes to compete for local high schools in Texas.
The bill is named after Tebow because the polarizing quarterback was homeschooled in Florida. Despite that, Tebow was allowed to play for Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo! Sports. Tebow led Nease to a state title, was named Mr. Football in Florida and went on to win two national championships with the Florida Gators.
By Wayne Drash, CNN
Editor's note: This is an edited excerpt from Wayne Drash's upcoming book "On These Courts," which documents former NBA all-star Penny Hardaway's return to his Memphis roots to help a friend with cancer coach at-risk youth. The book, which is released Tuesday by Simon and Schuster, started as a story on CNN.com.
(CNN) - The boys of Lester Middle dripped with sweat. They raced up and down the court, doing layup drills. The orange glow of the fluorescent gym lights flashed off the hardwoods. Coach Desmond Merriweather barked out signals.
"Y'all ain't hustling enough," said Merriweather, who was in the throes of battling stage IV colon cancer.
At the far end of the court, former NBA all-star Penny Hardaway peeked his head in the door. None of the kids noticed. He and Desmond decided that Penny would show up and surprise the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
As the players continued to run the court, Penny kept peeping his head in and out of the black metal doors until finally breaking into their practice.
Some of the boys instantly recognized him from a charity game two nights before and sprinted toward him.
But the two best players, Reggie Green and Robert Washington, trailed behind. They weren't sure who the 6-foot-7 guy with the trimmed goatee was.
By Schams Elwazer, for CNN
(CNN) - Saudi Arabian girls will be officially allowed to practice sports in private schools for the first time, according to an education ministry announcement reported in the nation's official press agency.
The new regulations for physical education, announced Saturday, require that girls "dress modestly" and have appropriate equipment and facilities, and that female Saudi teachers have priority to supervise these activities.
"(This decision) stems from the teachings of our religion, which allows women to practice such activities in accordance with sharia," Education Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Dakhini told SPA.
This is the first official government sanction of women's sports in schools, but some Saudis say it is not as momentous a decision as it may seem.
"This is not a big deal," said blogger Eman al-Nafjan, who writes about Saudi women's issues. "Private schools already have a physical education program, and the government knows about them. My daughter and niece both go to separate well-known private schools, and they both have sports programs."
Al-Nafjan says that although the announcement will not change anything for private school students, the decision itself could be a barometer for the introduction of sports into public girls' schools that do not have physical education programs.
(CNN) - Two years of rescue efforts could not save them. So, Tuesday, Auburn University cut down two iconic trees that a disappointed fan of its intrastate rival poisoned after his team lost a game to Auburn.
The landmark live oaks, used for celebrations by fans, who rolled them with toilet paper after big victories, were more than 130 years old. On Tuesday, they were coming down branch by branch from the campus gathering place, Toomer's Corner.
Local television news cameras broadcast the removal live.
"While it is sad, it will do nothing to change the spirit of Auburn," Auburn junior Carlee Clark told CNN iReport Tuesday, as the trees came down. "I think I speak for students and alumni alike when I say that I count it a privilege to be a part of this family, and the presence or absence of two trees could never alter that."
In 2010, both the Auburn Tigers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football teams were nationally ranked.
On November 26, Auburn, playing at UA in Tuscaloosa for the annual Iron Bowl, came back from a huge deficit to squeak past the Tide by a point, beating its tough sibling 28-27 on its home field.
Revenge for a loss
Tide fan Harvey Updyke didn't like losing and did something about it, which he confessed anonymously two months later on a UA sports radio show. He called in as "Al from Dadeville."
"Let me tell you what I did the weekend after the Iron Bowl. I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away," the caller said. "And I poisoned the two Toomer's trees."
He ended the call with "Roll Damn Tide," a battle cry for the University of Alabama.
By Brad Lendon, CNN
(CNN) - Schools must give students with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletics, including varsity sports, the U.S. Department of Education said Friday. And if existing sports don't meet the needs of those students, schools must create additional athletic programs.
Some advocates compared the move to Title IX, the 1972 amendment that mandated gender equity in education and sports programs at schools receiving federal funds. The department’s Office for Civil Rights pointed to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office that said disabled students were not getting equal opportunities to participate in sports, a right they were granted under the Rehabilitation Act, passed in 1973.
Denying disabled students’ participation meant that they “may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits” of playing sports, the education department said in a statement Friday.
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the statement accompanying the guidelines.
Examples of the kinds of accommodations the department is seeking included offering a visual cue, along with a starter pistol, to allow deaf students to participate in track races or allowing a one-hand touch to end swimming races, rather than a two-hand touch, which would allow students with only one arm to participate.
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) – Imagine a college championship bowl game where the teams are Northwestern and Northern Illinois.
The Wildcats and Huskies are not exactly the first teams that come to mind when you think of football powerhouses, but according to the New America Foundation, they are academic giants among the teams in this year’s Bowl Championship Series.
In its sixth annual Academic BCS, the foundation rated Northwestern No. 1 and Northern Illinois No. 2 among the 25 college teams in this season's final BCS standings.
How did they determine the rankings? The Education Policy team at the New America Foundation considers several factors. It calculates the difference between an entire football team’s graduation rate versus that of the other male students at the school; the graduation gap between black and white players on the team versus the same gap among the total male enrollment at the school; and the gap between the graduation rate of black football players versus all black males at the college.
The Education Policy team also factors in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which according to the NCAA’s website is “a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes that was developed as an early indicator of eventual graduation rates.”
According to the Education Policy team’s formula, Northwestern was ranked No. 1 because it has a 90% graduation rate among its football players, with no graduation gap between its white and black players.
By Steve Politi, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Football can't do much to help the devastated communities along the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy. But this is what residents in dozens of towns are discovering this month: Football players can.
From Union Beach to Seaside Heights, from Belmar to Bayville, local high school teams are aiding the recovery effort with supplies, with support, and sometimes, with strength.
That was the scene in Point Pleasant Beach last weekend. More than a dozen members of the town's undefeated high school team went door to door helping their neighbors. They carried out flood-ravaged debris to the curb, from couches to dressers to dining room furniture, and when they finished one house they would walk as a group to the next and start again.
"I said to the kids when I texted them (to organize the cleanup), the community has been so behind us, this is an opportunity for us, in a way, to say thank you," said John Wagner, the team's head coach.
Many of the players had done the same thing at their own homes earlier in the week. Others were displaced, living in hotels or shelters, not sure where their families would settle long-term.
This is the case up and down the Jersey Shore, the epicenter of the devastation from the unprecedented storm. The images on television days after, from the roller coaster from the Seaside boardwalk sitting in the ocean to the boats piled up like toys on the streets, do not begin to sum up the damage.
By John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - A New Hampshire school board member says that he wants to ban football in his district. Paul Butler, a retired surgeon and first-term board member for the Dover school district, says that the risks of injury in the sport are too great. "I think it's bad to take this away I certainly do. But it's worse to let it continue," Dr. Butler told CNN affiliate WHDH.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t just call football a contact sport. The medical group also refers to it as a collision sport, because participants routinely slam into each other or into the ground.
AAP released updated guidelines in 2010 on dealing with head injuries in children, recommending that some student-athletes retire from football after multiple concussions or if symptoms from a concussion last longer than three months.
The medical group doesn’t say young people shouldn’t play varsity football, which is what it said about youth boxing in 1997.
Some parents say there are benefits to playing on the gridiron. "I think there's a lot of positive things you can get from playing football. A lot of good lessons kids learn, teamwork, working together for a common goal," Harold Stephens says in the video above.
(CNN) - A high school football coach punished a player for violating the dress code when he wore pink on the field.
By Jason Morris, CNN
Dallas (CNN)– Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games.
State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year.
Macy Matthews, a 15-year-old Kountze sophomore, was eating lunch at cheerleading camp last July when her friend Megan became inspired by images she saw on social media.
"She saw a picture on Pinterest of a team that had made a run-through sign with a scripture on it, and as we were sitting down eating, she showed us and asked if we would be interested in doing that for the football season. So, we all talked about it," Matthews remembered. "We all loved the idea and thought it was really cool and encouraging."
Macy's mother, Coti Matthews, said the girls were excited to use Biblical phrases they considered motivational and uplifting for both the Kountz Lions and their opponents.
"It's their Christian belief, and they liked the idea and thought it was very positive, instead of doing traditional banners that say things like, 'Cage the Eagles,' or 'Bash the Tigers,' she said.
Instead, before the first three home games this season, the football players bolted onto the field through banners bearing New Testament verses such as "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13; "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14; and "If God is for us, who can be against us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31.