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Joe Medley: Prep sports priorities have changed, and we should make peace with it

Football teaser

High school athletes change schools. Water is wet.

That’s the state of affairs as the pursuit of perceived better coaching, perceived better chances to win, perceived better exposure and perceived better chances to bag an athletic scholarship become the naked bottom line for kids and their families.

There’s no transfer portal in high school sports. It only seems that way, as preps imitate new realities in college sports.

It’s nothing new on the high school level, however. How else did we all become educated on terms like “open-enrollment schools?”

Within Calhoun County there’s grown a divide between schools that marketable athletes leave and destination schools. We don’t have to name them here. Again, water is wet, and eager kids and families self-recruit.

It’s hard to blame them. Skyrocketing college costs have turned a college education into a lottery proposition for most folks, not just poor folks.

Athlete movement between schools might offend used-to-be sensibilities, but put yourself in the place of a parent. Put yourself in the place of a kid who hopes to find a way out.

As long as they accomplish their moves within Alabama High School Athletic Association rules, what’s the problem? Yes, highly competitive and creative coaches, not to mention their enablers, get good at gaming the rules. They get good at gaming families, too, but again, water is wet.

While those coaches laugh all the way to the trophy case, the joke might be on them.

Let’s not kid ourselves about what job No. 1 for coaches has become. Market forces have had their say, and it’s all about the schollys.

Those degrees and teaching certificates only get them in the door. Hours they still pour into teaching and administrative duties still matter, say nothing of film study and game planning. Life-lessons talks don’t conform to office hours, but don’t go home just yet, coach.

If you go home, don’t BE home just yet. Sorry, fam.

Flip open that computer. Fire up that phone. It’s social-media time, because coaches had better be seen promoting kids where they live.

There’s a beast to feed. Don’t feed it as much as the next guy, and watch able players find pastures on the scale of greener, greenest and “blessed to receive an offer” from fill-in-the-blank college.

The joke is on school administrators, too.

They might think they’ve invested enough in coaches and athletics facilities. They might’ve invested all they could, within their system’s budgetary restraints and priorities, but don’t be so high-minded.

Get real.

Sports have the power to drive mobs to their inboxes, if not their offices. Facebook threads metastasize.

Sports have a way of moving to the front of the line. Fail one time to correctly measure how much parents and athletes wearing friendly colors swear by a woke coach, and watch him or her leave.

There’s always a bigger program with more money to offer, or willing to offer more.

Watch families leave, too. They can change zip codes as easily as uniform colors. They’ll find a way.

If that seems like preps dystopia, well, welcome to Preps Dystopia. The grass is always greener here, and the water is wettest of all.

Like, on the blessed-to-receive-offer scale.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.