There is a storm that has brewed for a few years now. And it may be heading for landfall. The National 7-7 craze has become both a blessing and a curse. And while families and kids have rushed to get on the action the NCAA and others concerned have moved in.
Essentially the football 7 on 7 leagues or tournaments fall into two categories. One are events run by High School Football programs during the Summers as a part of conditioning and preparation.
Acclaimed Writer and Reporter Joe Schad at ESPN Covered this topic last Summer in a riveting piece that is a must read:
While college coaches don’t attend the tournaments, over the past year a slew of NCAA investigators have. For years, the NCAA has struggled to keep up with the recruiting and amateurism violations found in AAU basketball. In an attempt to manage the 7-on-7 scene, the NCAA has assigned seven employees to explore its underpinnings. The concern is an influx of third parties — such as the numerous coaches on Bush’s South Florida Express — could cause players to lose college eligibility if the players receive preferential treatment or extra benefits from them.
Because of that, many high school football coaches are also concerned about just who their players are playing for. The worries also include out-of-state travel with people whose backgrounds may be largely unknown, concerns about athletes being pulled out of class, and anxiety about a lack of knowledge among 7-on-7 coaches about how the players are performing in school.
Bush’s coach is one of the concerned.[+] EnlargeESPN Rachel Newman Baker, director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities for the NCAA, said that there is concern about third-parties who don’t have athletes’ best interests at heart.
“I think anybody that runs a 7-on-7 team that tells you they’re doing it for the exposure of kids is trying to pull one on you to be honest,” said Columbus High School coach Chris Merritt. “They’re doing it to make a buck.
“The people that are running 7-on-7, you can also call them street agents, let’s call it for what it is. The college coaches will be the first to tell you they would love to cut those guys out of the picture. The thing is, they’re forced to deal with these guys, because if they don’t, their competitor is.”
While a small number of high school head coaches are involved in 7-on-7, most of the coaches on the all-star 7-on-7 circuit are high school assistants, local businessmen, athletic trainers and recruiting or scouting service operators or employees. Teams are funded through players’ families, fund-raisers and corporate or private sponsorships.
What also upsets Merritt and others is that some 7-on-7 coaches, or “non-scholastic coaches” as the NCAA labels them, are injecting themselves into the recruiting process.
The other are events and tournaments run by others. Many of those others are Street Agents or Influence peddlers who are governed by no one and who often use such events as a way to get the athlete and their family sucked in to camps and clinics and to paid recruiting services.
These same people rarely have background checks and or proper insurance. They also are not governed by any ethical boundaries at all. And in that environment, which can turn into a cesspool of the wrong kind of people, the kids can be at risk in more ways than one.
Ask yourself if your kid is involved in one of these events if you really understand who is running it, what their goals and aims are, and if your athlete is protected. This topic is a growing concern and you can bet if your kid is at an event he is probably being watched by more than just a few casual observers. The NCAA and many others are watching too.
If you have a concern or a complaint about a 7 on 7 event you, your athlete, or a friend or family has gone to please contact us in confidence at email@example.com and we will help.