Increasingly, high school athletes are facing sports seasons that never end.  High school boys and girls are being asked to treat their sports with the same time and energy commitment as professional athletes.  Young players in virtually every sport are being pressured — in subtle and not-so-subtle ways — to attend “voluntary” practices, weight-training sessions, team camps, and in the case of football, a proliferation of 7-on-7 events.

The result is a growing number of over-use injuries and burn-out cases.  Another negative to this year-round trend is an increase in “street agents” who see high school athletes as just another way to make a buck.  Today, there are a growing number of event organizers creating 7-on-7 football camps to “promote players in front of college recruiting analysts, who rate players and sell evaluations and videos on the Internet or directly to colleges,” writes Tim Warsinskey of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

It presents a potentially ugly problem for the game of college football.

“There are in-between people getting involved starting 7-on-7 camps, and they are literally putting kids up on auction blocks so people can get a look at them,” said Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.  “And there are guys who are soliciting kids to go to a camp and getting paid to bring certain kids to camps.  You don’t want those people involved in our game.”

Clearly state high school athletic associations need to establish strong rules limiting these off-season activities before football and other sports are corrupted in the same way basketball was by AAU-type basketball tournaments and the shady “street agents” involved in that sport.

An ongoing effort must be made to keep the greedy adults out of youth and high school sports whose objectives are either win-at-all-costs or profit-at-all-costs.  Education (and the overall development of the young athletes involved in youth and high school sports) gets too little attention when these youth sports entrepreneurs are given too much freedom to operate.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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