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Does an IEP make a child ineligible for sports?

by Wrightslaw

I was told that my child cannot participate in sports at school because he has an IEP. Isn’t this discrimination? 

Prohibiting a student from participating in a sport because he has a disability and an IEP is discrimination, and a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. 

There are exceptions.

If a child is missing an organ, courts have split about whether the child can be denied the opportunity to participate in a contact sport like football or wrestling. In these cases, the court tries to balance the need to protect the child from serious harm (or death) against the child’s right to participate in a sport. 

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61 Comments on "Does an IEP make a child ineligible for sports?"


My child has an IEP and wants to play sports in high school. Problem is that her over-all grade point average is not a “C”. Are their provisions that can allow a child to participate in high school sports even though their are academic struggles associated with her disability that make “making the grade” problematic?


We are guardians for out granddaughter—she is 19 and back in HS. She has PTSS and is seeing a counselor. She is in 10/11th grade and doing good. She just went back to school in January–first time in 4 years. We applied to IEP and have not heard anything. Meanwhile they hand out paper for her to join the track team and today I find out through a text from her that she is too old. Why would they invite her and why shouldn’t she be able to participate in all school activities that she never had a chance to do, during her period of neglect and abuse? Help please. Perhaps acknowledging her IEP would be a circumstance that would allow her to be that normal high school-er that she is trying to be. TY Vicky


My son has autism and made the high school baseball team in CA after not making it his freshman and sophomore year. I was told by the principle and athletic director that they don’t ever have to put him in a game and there is nothing that I can do about it. That I need to be happy that he even made the team. My son loves to play and is a great player. I feel that he is being discriminated on because he isn’t part of the parents in group and has autism. The parents are all friends and have freshman kids playing on the Jv team. Team is not playing my son who is a better player than the freshman. I don’t know what to do.

James A

This is a response for Kevin. Kevin, Where I live, if your child is home schooled, they are allowed to try-out for their local high school. Same if they attend a Charter School. However, each district has its own policy. I would also check with the state HS athletic governing body.


My son has dyslexia and has an IEP. He must attend a private school because the public school cannot adequately accommodate him. He is a hockey player and wants to play team sports for the public high school because his school does not offer sports. Is there anything that can be done to make the public school allow him to play.