Tonight, I open myself up to being called an old man yelling at the clouds. Because what I’m about to say is becoming an antiquated argument.
So I’ll preface it with this progressive stance: With so much money in college sports, I have come around to the idea that college athletes deserve to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. I’m supportive of potential federal legislation and NCAA changes that will allow for this to happen, because frankly, schools are making too much money to justify a free education as being sufficient.
I am all for the rights of student athletes, who devote their entire lives and often give up educational or career opportunities just to be a part of a college team.
But to me, as a whole, the number of players transferring schools right now is disappointing.
The NCAA is expected to move forward with allowing athletes in top-five revenue sports – football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey – to transfer schools without having to sit out a year. In theory, it makes sense. But look at the numbers right now: There have been close to 1,300 transfers in Division I Men’s Basketball this year alone, according to VerbalCommits.com. That’s more than three per school! Six players on the Husky men’s basketball team entered the transfer portal in the last few weeks.
Now, I’m not going to stand here and judge any individual circumstances. Especially with coaches coming and going as they please, leaving for better opportunities and leaving their players in the lurch.
But I am concerned about the big picture, and the overall message it could be sending.
I’m concerned that a young athlete, when making a decision on attending a college, might be thinking, "Well, if it doesn’t work out in the first year or two, I’ll just go somewhere else."
In a day and age of immediate gratification, the accessibility and ease of transferring could be allowing young adults to simply jump ship if things get a little too tough.
Now, I admit this is probably another case of a Gen X’er (or older) judging the next generation. But there’s also something that can be said for stick-to-itiveness. For dealing with challenging situations without a built-in "Get Out of Jail Free" card waiting for you if it doesn’t work out.
Again, I’m not sitting here chastising young adults who transfer schools after earning their degree and finding somewhere else to play while they earn a master's. And I still don’t blame those who want to leave if they give the new coach a legitimate shot, and realize it’s not the right situation for them.
But student athletes have long been taught that they commit to a school – not a coach. In theory, they also should be committing to a school for its educational value too.
From my viewpoint, part of the educational process for any young adult is working through issues, rather than quickly abandoning them for a bright shiny object somewhere else. Part of committing to a school is the loyalty that comes with it and the opportunity to represent that institution for an entire college career. The current numbers in the transfer portal are diluting those fundamental values.
Yes, maybe I’m stuck in an old-school way of thinking. And I’ll admit that as such.
But take a look at all the transfers today, and you’ll realize that there’s becoming less and less loyalty in college athletics. And to me, that’s just really sad.
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