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Opinion: Is the Transfer Portal Helping or Hurting College Athletic Programs?

Is the transfer portal really that beneficial to college athletic programs?

Over the past year, one major force has taken over the world of college athletics: the infamous transfer portal.

Just about every sport gives athletes a chance to leave a university if they desire to go elsewhere. Depending on circumstances, some players have to forfeit a year of eligibility if they want to take their talents somewhere else. Others waste no time getting back onto the field, court or track and doing what they love. No matter how you view it, there are certainly some pros and cons of using the transfer portal for teams, coaches and players.

The portal is designed ultimately for players, and they sure have been using it to their advantage this year. Many athletes find themselves in unprecedented situations: perhaps they are being treated wrongly by a coach, or maybe they aren't very comfortable in their new home. Some even find that their talents would be better served elsewhere, and they are willing to work hard and do what it takes to rise to the top. The transfer portal helps athletes leave these negative situations and gives them a better outlook for the future. 

However, there are times when a player using the transfer portal might make you shake your head in disbelief. For example, should a player be allowed to abandon his or her team in the middle of the season? In extreme situations, yes, but leaving out of frustration with team performance or lack of playing time makes things worse for everybody involved in the end. If players are willing to quit for minor reasons without finishing their jobs, then who's to say that they won't do it again down the road? 

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The transfer portal impacts more than just the individuals who directly use it. Coaches, for example, have started to revolve more and more around pulling star athletes out of the transfer portal. This is great if there are certain players that they are hoping to acquire...but theres' no guarantee that they can always get the players they want. Ultimately, it's a gamble. Relying on the transfer portal to fill team needs does nothing for any athletic program, it simply serves as a bonus that coaches are starting to rely on a little too much to fill team needs. Plus, it causes some coaches to focus less on pulling recruits out of high schools across the country-- and in all honesty, some high school recruits are a lot easier to work with than transfer athletes. 

Most importantly, a constant inflow and outflow of players will ultimately affect a team as a whole. As positions on a team open and close, remaining players will have to fill in the missing pieces, thus changing the overall dynamic. Players might not always be comfortable taking over new positions that they are not as familiar with. On the other hand, as new athletes come in, the entire team will have to learn how to work together again. Each player is different, and there is rarely a time when everyone on the team just "clicks" quickly.

Obviously, it's a little bit easier to handle the sudden change during an offseason. It's a lot trickier when players move around in the middle of the regular season. Ultimately, the transfer portal can be a good thing for everyone involved, but it must be used with caution. If the portal continues to take over college athletics at the rate that it is now, then the future of sports might look very different.