Nike to Start National 7-on-7 League

Nov 15, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; An NFL football and a pair of Nike shoes on the bench during the second half of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Who would have thought a simple offseason drill could turn into a full-fledged sport? That is exactly what has happened with 7-on-7 football, which has now become so popular that corporate giant Nike will start a national 7-on-7 league.

Skill position players – quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs on offense, linebackers and the secondary on defense – compete in what is essentially touch football without any linemen in 7-on-7 competitions. Over the past decade, the phenomenon has grown immensely and has filled a void in states where there is no high school spring football.

Adidas holds competitions annually featuring over 200 teams that eventually compete for a national championship that is held in July in Atlanta. Pylon Elite has been holding national 7-on-7 tournaments for nearly 10 years in Las Vegas and 7-on-7 football is now a medal sport in the AAU Junior Olympics.

In the football-crazed state of Texas, there is a high school state championship tournament sponsored by Adidas. Teams across the state compete in qualifying tournaments to advance to the state title competition which is held each July prior to the start of high school football preseason camps.

Nike plans to start their national league in five cities – Atlanta, Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. It appears that Marriott and a major national airline will help to sponsor the league. Teams would be comprised of 25 members each paying $1,000 to join. The season would consist of two tournaments. Nike would expect the league to expand not only in the number of cities, but also in the number of competitions. The company, which is the official apparel outfitter of 80 of the 129 FBS schools, envisions junior high, junior varsity, and varsity divisions in the future.

The new 7-on-7 league may stir up some concern from the NCAA. College football’s governing organization banned 7-on-7 tournaments on college campuses four years ago. Any such competitions must be sanctioned by an organization not affiliated with a university in order to take place on a college campus. Playing in 7-on-7 tournaments is another way for players to get in front of college coaches in the recruiting process, which is heavily regulated by the NCAA.

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