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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

New rules create high school transfer portal similar to college, causes unfair advantage for open-enrollment districts

Recruiting, NIL play role in athletes abandoning their team, school
Onnika Moore

Back in 2021, when the NSAA stripped the Class A State Champion title from our football team, our community was outraged. An offensive player was found ineligible following a transfer into the district proved to have a mistake in in the transfer paperwork. Rumors of snitches and misunderstandings spread throughout the Omaha area, some painting Gretna High School in a negative light. Fast forward three years later, this year, Westside, the team that GHS faced in that 2021 championship game, now has players from all around Omaha due to their open enrollment and changes to the Nebraska School Activities Association’s (NSAA) bylaws regarding school transfers.
As for Gretna, the district has a clear policy of not allowing students from outside the district’s parameters to enroll in its schools. This is totally unfair and Gretna shouldn’t have lost their title over something that Westside does yearly.
In the ever-evolving world of sports, a newer element is taking center stage: the transfer portal. Both college and high school sports are changing and players are finding ways to be in what they believe is the best situation for their athletic careers. Schools are recruiting athletes to come to their schools, adding to their stacked rosters. The NSAA recently passed new bylaws to align similarly to college, the only exception being if an athlete enters after the May 1 portal.
No high school athlete should be allowed to abandon their team or school for what they think is a better opportunity, even if it entails better benefits. However, according to The Athletic, a sports journalism website, and the sports department of The New York Times, the metro has seen numerous Nebraska athletes enter the transfer portal each year since 2022. Following the pandemic, the original rule of sitting out for 90 days changed in high school. While it still does exist for those who transfer after the May 1 deadline, the rules make the decision to leave their school much easier. The 90-day sit-out period used to be a deterrent for athletes to initiate a transfer, but now, as long as they make that May 1 deadline, there is nothing stopping them from saying “I’m out” their team and school.
Had this been in place before the Dragons lost their title, they possibly could still have their true championship trophy in the case. Districts such as Gretna struggle, losing players to other schools that offer more and not allowing any outside players to come in. Even though it’s understandable to try and limit the size of a growing school, Gretna now has room to allow students in with the addition of their new high school. But this doesn’t mean that Gretna should conform to the ways of other schools but should continue the way they win: with the players they are given.
While the transfer portal has changed vastly, making money the game’s new name. Teams with more sponsorships and branding can offer more in name-image-likeness (NIL), which is the way an athlete can receive compensation for their relevance. This results in a corrupt system that lets the better teams stay on top. The smaller teams then are forced to sit back and watch instead of waiting their turn and playing the game correctly.
Although high school transferring isn’t the same money-wise, smaller high school teams sit in a similar position. They lose players to other schools with more to offer. Certain states also have rules regarding high school athletes receiving compensation or NIL. Nebraska currently allows players to receive benefits like sponsorships from brands and companies, resulting in players again, looking for the top opportunities.
Even though there are obvious problems with recruiting in high school, positives still exist. For the better players, finding a situation to bolster their rankings can benefit them for college. Playing for a team that goes 10-2 is better than a 3-9 team and being surrounded by other talented players can be beneficial. Additionally, the better the team, the better the coaching that comes with it, giving these players more development opportunities. The players who move to different programs have lots to benefit from, but leaving behind their past teams can be seen as “selfish” and cause bad blood to form. This is unfair in the fact that the former high schools can’t do anything about it. A team can’t suddenly produce talent and be a top team in the state, that’s why these more talented players being there can be the push these smaller teams need to get over the hump.
Even with these upsides for the players, the system is rigged. There needs to be a way to limit the recruitment and transfer of players and also add a buffer to relieve the problems if not entirely end this process. This system is going to continue to get worse with high school and college recruiting changing yearly. Since the Dragons lost their title in 2021, the rules have changed and conformed to the college system. The corrupt nature in which teams prey on smaller teams needs to be stopped. Although there is some good for the players, teams left in the dumps will continue to feel the pain. No one knows what comes next for sports, but money and winning drives sports at the youngest age, even if it’s unjust.

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About the Contributors
Brody Heidemann
Brody Heidemann, Sports Editor
Brody Heidemann is a junior at Gretna East and this will be his second year on an online journalism staff. He was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High last year. This year he is the GEHS Wingspan's Sports Editor. As a sophomore, Brody won third place in Yearbook Sports Feature Writing and also fifth in Sports News Writing at the NSAA High School State Journalism championships for Class-A. Brody enjoys participating in journalism because he is interested in learning about other people and likes being social. His goal for this year is to stay productive and keep stories coming out. Outside of school, he enjoys playing video games, working at Hy-vee and hanging out with friends. 
Onnika Moore
Onnika Moore, Editor
Onnika Moore is a junior at Gretna East High School. She was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High School for the past two year, and this year at Gretna East, she has earned an editor position. Her goals for journalism this year are to win State awards and build the program from the ground up. Journalism is the only school activity she is involved in, but with her free time, she enjoys drawing, reading and writing. She also loves to spend time with her two cats, Sprinkles and Cylis. 
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    ColleenFeb 20, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    There are a lot of issues with this.

    Check out the article on the OWH a from Aug 27, 2023 regarding the 17 Benson players who transfered to Central when their coach got a new job at Central.

    (This program won’t let me include the link)

    The Bunnies were smashed 93-0 in their first game of the season after several seasons of improvement.

    A change needs to happen.