The vexatious arguments on, “Transfer of High School Athletes”.

The vexatious arguments on, “Transfer of High School Athletes”.


Karl Wallace

There has been a steady flow of articles on the ‘terrible’ practice of transfer of high school athletes. It is posited that such transfers are exploitation of the student-athletes, unfair to students at both the school at which the student-athlete formerly attended and his or her new school and unfair to the school that prepared the student-athlete to the level of competitiveness whereon another school desires his or her services. Are those arguments with merit?

If we begin with the premise that high schools are institutions where development of the whole child to fulfill his or her potential then the following should hold true at each high school; the school strives to create climate within which that development to fullest potential is possible.   

If we follow such thought process that “climate for development of fullest potential” is the goal, then there is nothing unreasonable about parents and their child seeking a school with such a climate. For parents or guardians and the child it is more than mere reasonable position to seek ‘best climate’ or environs conducive to developing the child to fullest potential, it is a position that is morally sound. It is the responsible required position.


The arguments put forward by those lamenting transfer of student-athletes demand consideration.

  • Exploitation of the student-athlete

How so?

It is argued that the student-athlete is denied quality education at his new school.

The first thought asks; what are those who put forward such a position saying? Surely they are not saying that the new school is expected to provide sub-standard education. And if not that, surely it could not be claimed that, as fact, the new school has incompetent and uncaring administrators who deliberately provide poor education services to new student-athletes only?

If the above is what those against transfers identify as problems to be faced at the new school then those problems need to be addressed at the school’s administration and Board of Management levels with possible expert input from the Ministry of Education. Fact is, poorly run schools need work on upgrading performances to acceptable levels in each and every department. Having stated the obvious on need to improve performances it is not lost that quality teaching and motivation of students must also reside in the sports department. It is counter-productive to be setting an example for the student population that less than excellence in some areas, or that provision of quality education only in some areas, is acceptable.      

There is the stated or inferred thought that it is morally unacceptable for the new school to be congratulated or lauded for enabling the student-athlete to fulfill age appropriate potential. Who among us believe that praise is not due a school that provides climate that makes for its students fulfillment of potential? 

  • Unfair to students from which the student-athlete was transferred  

In light of each school’s charge to provide the very best of learning environment, inclusive of that provided in its ‘sports department’, how does that “Unfair to students from which the student-athlete was transferred” fit?  

Is it not reasonable to expect opportunities to be open to other students to fill the void?  Competent and caring administrators of the school from which the athlete was transferred must ask selves and provide answers to, ‘why did the student-athlete transfer out’?  

If the answer is that the student-athlete left because his old school just could not provide the necessary education environment that would satisfy the desire for achievable development, then ‘God Bless, the student-athlete and his parents or guardians’. Competent and caring administrators of the old school will then set about finding ways to upgrade and improve. That search for answers is necessary for the students of that school and for those administrators' peace of mind when thinking on fulfilling their tasks as educators who are obligated to deliver top quality education to all students.

Of course, if there were other additional reasons outside of what the student-athlete’s old school can possible deliver on quality of education, for example, the family has relocated then the student-athlete must have his old school’s blessings and his new school's welcoming arms.

There is one other matter that often finds its way into the discussion on student-athlete exploitation that must be addressed. That matter is the possibility of monetary reward accruing to the parents or guardians or other persons who facilitate the transfer. Let us be clear, transfers occur when one or more of the parties perceive resulting tangible benefit.

Tangible benefit is sometime not limited to what the student-athlete receives as environ more conducive to development of fullest potential but additional rewards for others. It maybe that parents or guardians receive inducements that make it easier to take care of the family. That I shall not address.  

  • Unfair to the student-athlete's new school

This baffles. What is unfair about schools providing improved learning environment? What is unfair about demands made on other students to ‘step up their game’ and improve performances?

Are schools not supposed to provide environment within which students, inclusive of student-athletes, are challenged to improve?

Let us examine this from other perspectives.

  1. Is denying the incoming student-athlete an education environment that is conducive to development to his fullest potential, morally correct?

  2. Is challenging student-athletes to improve performances, morally wrong?

Do both “a”, providing opportunity for improvement to students, and “b”, challenging students to improve, not what schools do?


In The Daily Observer newspaper of Monday, March 30, 2015 an article titled, “Bravo! Bravo! Campion College are the Grace Shield champions” with sub title “…without subscribing to obnoxious, scandalous, vulgar, unethical, and unprincipled practices” - - appeared. That article knowingly portrayed the idea that winning an ISSA sport trophy was “a feat that in this day and age of Jamaica is nothing short of miraculous” without “the deviant behavior that has become the norm and that has been practiced by the overwhelming majority of schools that, for many years have won sports trophies”.  Interestingly that article provided no evidence of that which it spoke.


In The Sunday Gleaner of March 29, 2015 there was an article titled, “PUT A STOP TO ATHLETE FACTORIES“ - In that article scurrilous claims are made without supporting statistics.

Sport in schools is an important activity. It does more than provide a showcase for trophies won. It is an important part of a child’s education.  

Sport and other extra-curricular activities create opportunities for collegiality and with it the sense of belonging and school pride that is a critical ingredient of every good school. Sport builds healthy bodies, encourages self-discipline, grows confidence and promotes positive social interaction. It is an essential component of good education and it is not a coincidence that schools in which there are high participation rates in sport and other extra-curricular activities are also the schools that produce the best academic results.”

Source: The Teacher

There are studies that support the claim that in schools with well run sports programs there is positive impact on academic results.

The numbers of students engaged in sports in schools and the numbers who actually go along to represent their schools have us waiting for research and publication of findings on, numbers of transfers as percentage of totals and impact on academic performances with conclusions on the place of sports in our schools.

If I may venture an opinion: my purely unscientific observation suggests need for improved efficiency in administration of our schools in all areas, that of course is inclusive of the sport disciplines.  

Those knocking our school sports, in the jargon of yesteryear, “need to com bettah dan dat!”  Give us data and outcomes.  As with all of a school’s activities outside influences, quality of administration (= quality of and management of the learning environment) and the motivational and teaching skills of teachers are important factors to consider.

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