Gene Henley: Don't get outraged by prep transfers

Gene Henley: Don't get outraged by prep transfers

December 11th, 2012 by Gene Henley in Sports - Columns

The general expectation is that once an athlete enters high school as a freshman, he or she is going to be there for the next four years. Occasionally a standout decides to transfer to another school, which usually sends fans into an outrage and often prompts some sort of correspondence from the state association.

But ultimately, does it matter?

From my standpoint, we're in a time when the word "loyalty" and "sports" don't intertwine. I, for one, am perfectly OK with that, because if an athlete or a coach doesn't want to be on my particular team or at my particular school, I don't want that person there.

Could he still help me? Sure. But if his heart isn't in it, I don't want his body -- regardless of how good he might be.

I've never had a problem with kids transferring and never will. Too many times athletes who are perceived as "stars" in their respective sports are vilified for leaving their old school and going to another, especially if they don't have to move far to do it. Some don't feel as though they're going to get collegiate looks playing at their original school, and some just like the opportunity to play in what could be perceived as a better economic environment. For some, who knows?

The bigger question is, who cares? Their reasons might, to you, be selfish or wrong, but they are those kids' reasons. Not the coaches, not the athletic directors and not the principals, who have to go out of their way to validate the transfers because they don't want the possibility of what happened to the Cleveland basketball team back in 2008 or the Signal Mountain football team last season, where they have to forfeit games and miss out on postseason opportunities.

Meanwhile, other kids who might not be recognized as standout athletes can come and go as they please. Nobody mentions them, but news flash! They exist.

During my time as an athlete, I wanted guys on my side who wanted to play for the team on their chest; you were either with me or against me. They do me no good being there physically yet not mentally. I guarantee you coaches who are vested in their programs don't have time to deal with players who don't want to be there. They're too busy focusing on the ones who do.

As a fan, you should, too.

My Tuesday "Three to Watch":

• Rhea County girls at McMinn County, 6: Rhea's Lady Golden Eagles already have two district road victories this season, which is one fewer than the previous two seasons combined. A third one tonight won't be easy against a McMinn team that just lost a winnable home game to Cleveland on Friday.

• McCallie at Hamilton Heights, 7:30: Two teams that competed at high levels last season are off to slow starts as they try to plug in gaps caused by big personnel losses. What's left are McCallie guards Jamaal Calvin and Jorden Williams and Hamilton Heights big man Rokas Paulauskas.

• East Hamilton boys at Brainerd, 7:30: Not only is this a big game from a district standpoint, but I'm guessing the host Panthers are ready to shake off the nasty taste left by the Hurricanes' 60-54 victory the last time the two teams faced each other.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.