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Plant City Observer Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 3 months ago

What’s on Kline’s Mind? Transfer rules change coverage

Lax regulations make the preps feel more like the pros.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

If you would have told me five years ago that I’d one day have to keep an eye on high school athlete transfers like a pro league’s free agency window, I’d have scoffed.

Now I can’t be surprised when I hear of kids ending up at new schools. Everybody wants to find a greener pasture whether it’s really there for them or not.

I consider myself pretty open-minded about change and am all for players doing what they think is best for themselves. But now that we’ve gotten a full year and a half with the new FHSAA transfer regulations out of the way, I’d say the prep sports scene has become what a lot of us sportswriters feared it would be: a free-for-all. It’s especially evident in football and, just working on this year’s preview, I’ve heard of more transfers already than in my first three years on the job combined. Here’s one time where I’d love to go back to the old ways.

As was predicted, we have a lot of kids leaving smaller programs for the heavy hitters and forcing coaches to scramble later in the offseason than they’d like. Switching schools once, twice, even as many as three times in the offseason — and I’ve heard it all — hurts schools’ ability to be competitive. Sometimes kids transfer to bigger, better programs only to find their role will be smaller than promised or even nonexistent. 

A lot of us sportswriters get into and stick with preps coverage because it’s so much fun. You don’t have the pretentiousness and business-like aura of higher levels. It’s sports in the purest sense, or at least it’s supposed to be. It’s always a lot of fun seeing kids come up through the ranks at smaller schools and help them achieve more than they were expected to. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? They’re harder to find now but perhaps sweeter for it.

If you’re thinking of switching schools, all I can do is ask you to weigh your options carefully and wish you luck. The switch is easy; making the final cut isn’t.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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