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How Virtual Students Can Participate in School Sports [Guide]

Families are increasingly choosing to make the switch to online education. Virtual academies, like Summit Learning Charter, can be a great option for those seeking academic flexibility, individual accommodation, and opportunities for family support and supervision. But many of these families worry that virtual students won’t be able to participate in school sports.


For both in-person and online students, sports can be an exceptionally important part of life. Being part of a team and competing in a safe environment can be a hugely positive experience, leading to better physical, academic, social, and psychological outcomes.


Students don’t have to sacrifice school sports in order to pursue online education. We’re here to break down how virtual students in Oregon can participate in school sports and what you can do to get involved!


Can Online Students Still Play Sports at Public Schools?

young boy wearing blue athletic wear playing soccer

Families looking to transition to online learning often have concerns about their eligibility to play sports at their local public school. But don’t worry! Whether you’re already involved in sports or you’re hoping to try out for a team at your local school, you can participate as an online student.


Most virtual schools in Oregon, including Summit Learning Charter, are membersSLC is a member of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), which is the organization that oversees high-school level sports statewide. Through this affiliation, students can confirm their eligibility to participate in local school district teams, regardless of their enrollment status. 


We can help you by filling out any paperwork required by your local public school and working with you to create a class schedule that accommodates your team responsibilities.

Benefits of Participating in Sports for Online Students

Research consistently shows that there are wide-ranging benefits of youth sports for all students, whether they attend school in person or virtually. 


Not only does playing sports help kids stay physically fit and healthy, but it’s also been shown to improve students’ mental health and self-confidence. Youth sports are also linked to long-term academic and career success and lower rates of risky behavior.


For virtual students, sports participation can also be a great opportunity to form in-person friendships and build strong social skills outside of the classroom. Participating in sports and other extracurricular activities during high school also looks great on a college or scholarship application!

How To Fit Sports Into Your Schedule

Whether you go to school in a virtual or in-person classroom, it can be a challenge to find time for sports as a busy student. Fortunately, online students have the advantage of time flexibility. This makes it easier to participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, especially for learners with fully self-paced, asynchronous class schedules.


Virtual learning brings with it the opportunity to manage your time according to your academic and non-academic responsibilities. Many in-person student athletes must attend classes from 8am-3pm, participate in practices and games after school, and complete their homework once they get home. This non-stop schedule leaves little time for leisure and can quickly lead to mental and physical burnout. However, online students have the freedom to schedule coursework around their sporting activities so they don’t have to sacrifice their social, academic, or athletic endeavors.

Related: A Typical Day for a Student Attending Virtual School 

How To Choose a Sport

young girls high fiving after playing a match of tennis

If you’re interested in getting involved with athletics but you aren’t sure which sport to choose, don’t worry. While it can be overwhelming to have so many options, there are ways to narrow it down. 


Consider the following questions:

  • Are you more interested in team sports (basketball, football, etc.) or individual sports (gymnastics, cross country, etc.)?
  • What is your main goal in joining a sport? Are you more intrigued by the social or physical benefits of athletics?
  • Have you played sports before? What did you like and dislike about your past experiences?
  • Do you want a high level of competition, or are you looking for something more laid-back?


Keep in mind that you don’t have to make a final decision before exploring all of your options in the real world. Consider signing up for beginners’ classes at your local recreation center, getting together with friends at an open gym, or renting some equipment to try out at home.

Can You Participate in Multiple Sports?

While it can be a challenge to juggle multiple sports, it’s definitely possible, and there are actually many potential benefits!


Some studies have shown that playing multiple sports rather than specializing in only one may actually reduce the risk of injury for young athletes. This is because a diverse sporting experience allows you to strengthen different muscles and avoid overuse injuries.


Here are a couple of things you can do to make participating in multiple sports easier:

  • Choose sports that alternate their active seasons. For example, at many highschools, soccer is often played during the fall season, while track and field usually takes place during spring.
  • Communicate with your coaches to ensure there won’t be overlap. It can be easier to stick with the same school for both sports to keep communication and planning streamlined.

Can Online Students Play College Sports After Graduation?

Virtual student athletes with the skills and desire to continue with sports in college can absolutely do so, and many are very successful at it! Like those who attend traditional in-person schools, online students have the opportunity to apply for athletic scholarships as well.


Most virtual high schools, including Summit Learning Charter, will work with the NCAA and NAIA – both national collegiate-level sports organizations – to confirm transcript information on behalf of their students.

Other Extracurriculars for Online Students

students playing violin as an extracurricular

The desire to participate in extracurricular activities outside of school isn’t limited to sports. Many students want to be involved in clubs, teams, and activities in their local school districts outside of sports. For example, maybe your local high school has a chess club that you want to join. Maybe you’re a member of the school marching band or you’re involved in theater.


Because the OSAA only oversees sports, these other situations can be more complicated, depending on the individual school. In some cases, students and their families may have to advocate for themselves to get access to non-sports activities. But it absolutely can be done, and virtual academies like SLC generally encourage students to explore their interests both in and out of the classroom!

Discover Athletic Opportunities for Online Students!

At Summit Learning Charter, our support staff are committed to ensuring that each and every student has the opportunity to explore their interests through extracurricular activities – including sport!


At SLC, students have the chance to play sports competitively through their local school district. Students who are interested in learning more about their athletic options in online school can work with their advisor to find the right path for them.

Apply now!

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Sean Gallagher

Mr. Gallagher has been working at Summit Learning Charter since 2008, the school's founding year, and has been the Principal since 2014. Sean has been an educator for 27 years working in alternative education, teaching English, and school leadership. Sean's passion as a school leader is constructing Summit towards continual growth and student centered solutions.

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