tampabay.com

No harm in players trying to get noticed

By JOHN C. COTEY, High Schools Columnist
Published January 31, 2008


The sky is falling. I see the looks of fear. I hear the galloping, four horses, getting closer, closer ...

So let me get this straight: It's War, Famine, Conquest and ...Transferring?

Something like that?

Everyone, settle down. Take a deep breath. It's going to be all right.

Now get out your scorecard.

A wide receiver transfers into the lap of the county's best quarterback.

A running back leaves a team with a better running back to go to a team with no running back.

A quarterback transfers from East Lake to Countryside about the same time a quarterback transfers from Countryside to Largo.

This upsets some people.

I'll save my outrage for coaches cheating and raiding other teams' rosters, sneaking around at youth football games, sending in their surrogates (assistants, their players) to do their dirty work.

I don't have a problem with a kid (or his/her parents) deciding a different school is a better fit athletically.

Yes, I know: It's supposed to be about the education. I tried telling that to my daughter, who was all set to transfer from an A school to a C school for one reason - it had a better chorus department.

She hoped it would give her more exposure and better scholarship offers.

She's not alone. There are lots of kids just like her, and a lot of them happen to play sports.

Difference is, the chorus isn't big business. Football is.

Kids spend their summers playing in dozens of tournaments and games a week, spending hundreds of dollars on camps, traveling the state and working with personal trainers.

Why? To get better, be noticed, attract colleges.

That doesn't end when the high school football season starts. Why should it?

Alan Sampson left Gaither, which will rely on top running back Jarvis Giles next season, to play at Plant, which will rely on Aaron Murray's golden arm.

Sampson is a wide receiver.

Can you blame him?

I don't disagree that the great players will be noticed regardless of where they play.

But I think some good ones would otherwise go unnoticed. Sampson may not get better coaching at Plant, but I bet he gets a better scholarship offer if he performs, mainly because he could end up being showcased.

Unless you're ready to start policing overzealous and delusional parents, deciding which ones are making the right decision for their kids and which ones are making the wrong ones, or unless the Florida High School Athletic Association jumps in and clamps down, high school free agency is here to stay.

So you know, it's not an epidemic. A large majority of kids stay put for four years.

They treasure playing with their friends, with the kids they grew up with, for the school that's right around the corner, the place their parents went.

They deserve to be respected.

But so too does the decision made by parents trying to put their kids in a better position to succeed, whether or not we agree with it.