Seven-on-seven football has been part of football practices since the sport began. Over the last few years it's become a sport of its own.
It's improving the game, but it's also bringing in those that are looking to cash in on high school players. The NCAA is so concerned that it's barring some tournaments from college campuses.
Seven-on-seven is basically flag football. For high school teams, it's summer practice -- a way to sharpen skills and develop the team's passing attacks without the wear that comes from tackling. It's a growing craze that is beginning at the middle school level.
"It's just recently that's it become like an entity unto its own," said Plant High School football coach Robert Weiner. "It's because it's the fun part of practice. You write your practice schedule. You go inside and you've got pounding with the run game. So everyone is out there working. Then you go pass game and everyone is talking and having fun."
It's fun and also profitable for some third parties that are looking to cash in on recruits. The NCAA is concerned that some national all-star tournaments are being used as recruiting tools. These tournaments are putting players' amateur status in jeopardy by giving gifts and cash. They're referred to as "street agents" who also try to broker deals with college teams.
"It's really like anything else in society, where there's an opportunity for someone to take advantage of something they will," continued Weiner. "When that door opens for opportunity, I think some guys have come in and sometimes to their own benefit have created some seven-on-7seven situations where now there the conduit to which the college recruiting goes through."
In and effort to head off any problem with seven-on-7sevens, the NCAA formed a panel to discuss this matter during a May meeting in Indianapolis. The panel included Plant High's Robert Weiner.
"I like the fact they are addressing it," said Weiner. "What's happening with these 'third parties' is that it's (control of student-athlete) is moving more outside the hands of the high school coaches."
In January, the NCAA banned seven-on-seven tournaments from its campuses unless that are run by that school's coaching staff. If not, coaches are not permitted to attend.
So what do parents need to know before signing their kids up to play?
"I think when it's done right, it's a really, really, really good thing," offered Weiner. "I think the most important thing is to keep the high school coaches in on it. The high school coach can take care of his kid the best, because that's the guy that has the kid's best interest."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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