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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Amateur hour is over

Graduate+G+Dexter+Dennis+%280%29+on+the+floor+supporting+the+team+during+a+game+vs.+Alabama+on+March+12%2C+2023+at+Bridgestone+Arena+in+Nashville+Tennessee.
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Graduate G Dexter Dennis (0) on the floor supporting the team during a game vs. Alabama on March 12, 2023 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee.

Ah, the transfer portal.

Two words that will send a flurry of either intense joy or fury through the hearts and minds of college sports fans.

Since hitting the scene in 2018, the transfer portal has drastically changed the landscape of college athletics. A player used to have to sit out a year when transferring, deterring many players from leaving their schools. Now, athletes can leave without repercussions, changing schools quickly without penalty.

This shift in the player-school dynamic has divided the old-school and new-school fans alike. A rift has formed between those who enjoy the calm and those who embrace the uncertain storm.

Whose favorite player will transfer? Who will their team transfer in? The sheer number of players leaving the schools they committed to out of high school is unprecedented. Already over 1,000 college basketball players have put their name in the portal this year, with surely more to come. It’s havoc, it’s bedlam, it’s complete mayhem.

And I love every single minute of it.

Why wouldn’t I? The reason that fans of professional teams love free agency is because of the uncertainty of it all. Watching the roster and trajectory of your favorite team change on a dime makes professional off-seasons almost as fun as the regular season. 

Amateurism in college sports is out the window. With Name, Image and Likeness already making waves in how athletes can receive profit from their image, the concept of a player being unable to move schools to pursue different opportunities when they present themselves is becoming increasingly asinine.

If a coach can leave whenever they want, why can’t a player? The double standard in college athletics has been blindly accepted for years, ever since the 1950s when the blanket term “student-athlete” limited the rights athletes had for worker’s compensation.

Now, the landscape of college sports is as free as it has ever been, and it should be embraced rather than ridiculed.

Almost one month into the opening of the college basketball transfer portal, major names have already entered.

Star junior North Carolina guard Caleb Love has already left the blueblood program to head to Michigan, entering and bumping into former junior Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson as he leaves for another school himself.

Sophomore Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard, who was expected to lead the Bluejays next year, surprisingly put his name in the portal. Freshman Alabama guard Jaden Bradley, who was expected to be a leader for the Crimson Tide next year, will be playing for a new team.

Every season will now see well-known names in different jerseys, stars shining under new lights. The parity the transfer portal creates is not just a benefit to college athletes, it’s a necessity.

The reason bluebloods exist is because of the old-fashioned system college sports used to follow; the best players went to the best school, they would wait to get their time to shine and the best schools would win championships.

Now, the best players have the capacity to recognize their worth, to understand that they hold their future in their hands. College athletes can bet on themselves, believing they can go somewhere else and make an immediate impact.

Just this year, the Men’s NCAA Tournament was the first time a No. 1 or No. 2 has never made not just the Final Four, but the Elite Eight. The highest seed wasn’t even a No. 3 seed, it was a No. 4 seed in UConn. The other three teams included No. 5 seeds San Diego State and Miami and No. 9 Florida Atlantic.

Eight of the 20 players for the starting five in this year’s Final Four were all transfers from other schools, including breakout stars like junior Miami guard Nijel Pack and junior FAU center Vladislav Goldin.

The transfer portal is giving haves to the have-nots. Players that would have never considered playing for a smaller program are becoming more accepting of it simply to get more playing time.

One of the main arguments against the transfer portal is that it eliminates the idea of loyalty to a university, the commitment to play for not just the name across your back, but the one across your chest.

Is loyalty propagated by the idea you will have to sacrifice an entire year of playing time simply to leave a school truly loyalty? Or is it simply athletes becoming the victims of circumstance, giving the college sports fan peace of mind at the expense of the player’s livelihood?

And to say that the transfer portal kills player loyalty is disrespectful to the mid-major players who, after dedicating four years of their playing career to a small Division 1 university, want a chance to play on the biggest stage.

Players like senior Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas, senior Towson guard Nicolas Timberlake and senior North Texas guard Tylor Perry have all spent four years at their respective universities, and they deserve a shot on a higher-caliber team after they have all put their names in the portal this offseason.

The public praised professional quarterback Matthew Stafford when he made the decision to leave the historically under-performing Detroit Lions to go win a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. These college players are in the same situation, a good player on a poor to mediocre team who wants at least one shot at winning the greatest accomplishment in their sport.

The mindset behind how college athletes are viewed needs to change. The old definition of amateurism is no longer applicable. Quite, viewing them as if they’re children who have no idea what’s best for themselves.

The transfer portal is, yes, a mess, but it is a promising mess. It is a mess that gives chances, a mess that grants opportunities. So, you may scoff at the absurdity of the transfer portal, but when you embrace it, that is when you can truly embrace the beauty of it all.

 

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