The very title of the event encapsulates everything that concerns some about 7 on 7 football, particularly the non-scholastic commercialism that has taken hold of club basketball.
But IMG Performance, which is a division of the world's largest sports and talent agency, says it can bring a structured environment to 7 on 7 football, which isn't a sanctioned high school sport and where the rules vary from event to event. Thursday, Odis Lloyd, IMG Performance's vice president for business development, told USA TODAY Sports about IMG's plan for a "National 7v7 Football Association" that would sanction events, with help from a national advisory board.
"We're trying to provide a platform for 7 on 7 that is consistent, that has guidelines," Lloyd said. "When you think of sports and entertainment, there's not any company out there bigger than IMG. We have the capacity to deal with the event and event structure."
Lloyd said in August IMG would begin accepting association members who would include event organizers, coaches and players. Lloyd said that he would like to see the association's advisory board represent coaches, parents, athletes, organizers, the NCAA, and the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS).
Bob Gardner, the executive director of the NFHS, said he hadn't been contacted by IMG but that 7 on 7 football is a likely topic at the group's national convention July 8-11 in Nashville.
"We've had concerns about 7 on 7 and remain concerned about where it may be going," Gardner said. "It should be something that should be handled by high schools. I don't know if we would get involved (with IMG's) advisory board. I have to see what their approach is."
While having a sports agency promote national events involving high school football recruits might raise eyebrows, Lloyd points out that IMG has not represented athletes in team sports for more than a decade. IMG, would benefit, however, from having future pro athletes see its 400-acre sports training facility. It also would benefit from several marketing deals connected to 7 on 7 sports.
"In the high school space, sponsorships are nothing new," Lloyd said. "Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and the Marines are all aware that companies need high school sports as a demographic. Are these companies looking to get their brand in front of people? Absolutely."
Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) football coach Jeff Herron isn't sold on national or state 7 on 7 competitions. He sees 7 on 7 more as a training tool, not a marketing opportunity.
"We had a little four-team round-robin 7 on 7 this morning at our school," Herron said. "We do that a lot. We lift weights first, then do an hour of mental work and then 7 on 7. It's the third-most important thing we do. We don't travel to a lot of 7 on 7 tournaments. We don't have kids on our team who play 7 on 7 on their own, on all-star teams. I'm in favor of anything that keeps kids out of the streets, but it's not real football. I'm in favor of it as long as the teams are competing as high school teams."