My Thoughts on the Transfer Portal

There's been a lot of talk about the transfer portal in recent years. Ever since the NCAA made it easier to transfer schools, more and more athletes are transferring. Is this good or bad?

In my opinion, it is both good and bad. On one hand, athletes should have the freedom to go to the school that is best for them. If they have a serious reason for why they want to transfer, then they should be allowed to. No athlete should be forced to stay at a school if they have a legitimate reason to want to leave. However, this freedom has come with a cost. While many athletes have truly good reasons to want to transfer, some athletes are transferring for no good reason. And this is hurting both them and their team. Even worse, some athletes use the threat of transferring as a way to earn more playing time. This should never happen. But more importantly, young adults need to learn the value of commitment and loyalty. When an athlete signs a letter of intent and joins a college team, they are basically agreeing that they will play their entire collegiate career with the school. They should honor this commitment as best as they can. Athletes shouldn't let the slightest bit of adversity cause them to want to transfer. They also shouldn't let emotions dictate important decisions. The majority of the time, any issue you have with a school can be solved without transferring. Athletes should work out any issue they have with their school, coach, teammates, or personal life and continue to honor their commitment to their school. If an athlete doesn't solve the root causes of their problems, then the same problems might come back after they transfer to a different school.

Many athletes justify transferring by saying they need to look out for themselves and do what's best for their future. They assume that if they transfer they will get more playing time, and this will increase their chances of making it to the pros. There's merit to this argument, but I'd like to counter it by saying that it's not always about you. Sometimes you need to do what's best for the team, and not just do what's best for you. Even if you could benefit personally by transferring, you should care more about helping your team that you've committed to. It's often better to be a part of something greater than yourself, even if you gain less individually.

Besides, you can increase your chances of making it to the pros by taking the harder route and sticking with your current team and competing for playing time. Tougher competition with your teammates will bring out the best in you. If you come out on top, you'll be greatly rewarded in the future. And even if you don't become a starter, you can still become a pro. The backups on the best teams often make it to the pros. Lastly, by taking the harder route, you show great integrity and leadership. By taking the easy route, people may lose trust in you as a team player and leader. They might think you're selfish and won't fully commit to a team.

Like with any tough decision, choosing whether or not to transfer requires you to evaluate the pros and cons. It's important to avoid making an emotional decision. You should only transfer if you have truly good reasons to do so and if the pros outweigh the cons. You shouldn't transfer just because you had a disagreement with a coach. You shouldn't transfer just because you want an easier way to earn playing time. You shouldn't transfer just because you're a little bit homesick. Here are what I believe are real reasons to transfer:
  • If your coach treats you terribly or holds you back from reaching your potential (and there's nothing you can do about it). 
  • If you have a family emergency and you need to be closer to home.
  • If there's no way for you to earn playing time, even if you give your best effort. 
Remember, if you have a truly good reason to transfer, don't be afraid to do so, and don't let your coaches pressure you into staying at your school.

Since every team and every individual is different, I'm sure there's many more legitimate reasons to transfer. The important thing is that you think it over carefully and make the right decision. I think the transfer portal is a good thing, but we need to use it responsibly.