He transferred where? She’s playing for them now? Those are some questions that followers of high school sports all across America utter to each other every season while reading the local newspaper. Recruiting and transferring are major issues in high school and middle school sports in today’s day and age. We would like to ask this question: “Should Christian schools recruit?”
To answer the big questions in life, often times you need to first answer some smaller ones. Today we have five smaller questions that should help us arrive at an answer to whether recruiting in high school sports and Christian schools is ethical.
Is recruiting against the rules of the athletic league that you’re a part of?
Without reading your specific by-laws, we can pretty much assure you that the answer to this question is YES!
Many of our readers are coaches and athletic directors at private schools that charge tuition, so it’s easier to justify shady transfers since families choose to enroll their students in the school.
However, it’s not that simple. Whether the parents made the decision to switch schools or not, encouraging a player to transfer into your school in order to bolster your athletic department is recruiting.
Many leagues have policies regarding transfer athletes. Be aware of these policies when you have an incoming athlete. Failure to follow them can result in fines, suspensions, and expulsions.
How much does recruiting actually happen in Christian school sports?
Recruiting takes place at our level very often. It may be more prevalent in our realm than in public schools.
The tuition factor and lack of zoning districts makes it much easier for athletes to switch schools. Other schools use their programs to recruit second tier talent away from local public high schools.
Not getting playing time at the 4A school? You’d start varsity as a freshman at our school!”
Some schools enlist foreign exchange programs to help in funneling athletes to their schools. Most services don’t give preferences to athletes when assigning foreign exchange placement, but it has happened.
There have been ministries that aid in the process of delivering overseas athletic talent to small Christian schools in the name of evangelization. We certainly can’t judge the motive of these ministries or of those that subscribe to their services. However, one can certainly admit that they are shady at best.
Instances like this are prevalent in Christian school athletics across the country.
Does recruiting make you a better coach?
If you’re a coach who is tempted to bring in some outside help, think about this question.
Does bringing in athletes for their junior and/or senior season make you a better coach? It really doesn’t; it makes you better at working the system.
Personally, as a younger coach, I was always hitting up players in public schools, churches, rec leagues, wherever I could trying to get them to transfer. I was looking for a quick fix to problems I had instead of focusing on improving the players that the Lord had placed on my team.
If you view your coaching position as a ministry, then you should pray that the Lord will give you the players that He wants you to coach.
Focus on them.
pPur your life into them.
The long-term rewards are greater than any championship you may win with loaned players.
What does recruiting say to your athletes?
Recruiting tells your current athletes that you don’t think they are capable of success. If success is strictly defined as winning, then you may be right.
However, if success truly means to work as hard as you can to develop your God-given talents to the best of your ability, then recruiting tells your athletes that their hard work doesn’t matter. They will eventually be replaced by better athletes.
Reward those athletes that have worked so hard for you; don’t look for better options.
What does recruiting say about your program?
If your athletic department actively engages in recruiting other athletes to transfer into your program, whether recognized or not, it says that you value wins over development.
The goal of every Christian school athletic department should be to develop the athletes that are in the program. This starts in elementary and continues all the way through varsity.
This isn’t to say that athletes who legitimately transfer in should be treated differently. Hopefully, your athletic department is so attractive that others want to transfer in just to be a part of it. However, getting transfers should not be the aim.
Christian school sports should be a place for all students to work hard to develop their athletic gifts. They hone theses talents in cooperative competition with other like-minded schools. Through competing in our programs students should learn that wins and championships go to the team that makes the best use of their talents.
Win because the group that the Lord placed at your school strove together to achieve, not because you knew the right people.