The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) sets a series of minimum guidelines that must be met before grade 9-12 students may participate in a sanctioned sport. Local school districts can also have their own guidelines, but they must be stricter than the GHSA guidelines.
In order to compete in an interscholastic activity, each student must obtain a certification of eligibility approved and signed by the principal of the school the student is attending. The certificate states the student has met each of the requirements of the GHSA for the sport. The certificate must be obtained by the student and processed by the GHSA prior to the first practice of the season. The requirements that must be met include minimum academic requirements, age, residence in the school's service area and transfer rules.
In order to be eligible to participate or try out in the sport, the student must be enrolled full-time at the school seeking the eligibility. Generally speaking, a student must be enrolled in the school before he can begin playing, although there are guidelines that cover sports which begin their practice seasons in the summer. Grade 9 students who attend a middle or junior high school which feeds to an eligible high school are also eligible to play, assuming they meet the other guidelines.
To be eligible to participate in interscholastic activities, a student must not have reached his 19th birthday prior to May 1, preceding his year of participation. This means that if you turn 19 on April 30, you are eligible to play through the end of the school session (typically June), but not eligible to participate in any summer practice sessions or events.
In order to be academically eligible to play interscholastic sports, a student must be taking classes that carry at least 2.5 Carnegie Units counting toward graduation. The passing score in all GHSA schools is a score of 70 or higher. Students who transfer from other schools with different guidelines can petition the GHSA for a waiver. Students are also able to obtain tutoring to raise their grades, assuming the school offers tutors for all students.
Special Education Students
Students enrolled in special education programs have to meet slightly different eligibility requirements. If they attend special ed classes at a school other than their "home" school, they must meet the requirements of the school where they take the majority of their classes. However, they are still required to meet graduation and overall grade score requirements.
Stephanie Ellis has been a journalist since 1987. She began her career working at a small-town newspaper, but in the years since she has been published in outlets from "The Chicago Tribune" to CNN.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles.