National Championships Move to High School Level

27 01 2010

March Madness and the Bowl Championship Series are two huge industries with serious fans and serious money.  So why not take the national championship action to the high school level?

With the help of IMG, a Pennsylvania-based high school coaches’ association is working on it.

https://i2.wp.com/athletics.franklinpierce.edu/images/mbkb/2008-09/action/presto/huddle0809a.jpg

This high school team could be coming to a TV near you (http://bit.ly/b2N8LJ)

From the USAToday:

The venture comes as the National Federation of State High School Associations, the umbrella organization for state high school governing bodies, gives its first serious consideration to the establishment of sanctioned national championships. More than half the state associations signaled their interest in exploring the issue during the NFHS’ winter convention in San Francisco earlier this month, and its eight-person board of directors could deliver a recommendation in April.

At first glance, this appears to be a win for everyone.

According to Steve Wieberg’s article, “IMG starting high school national championships,” IMG is expecting these games to be nationally televised and picked up by big-name sponsors.

If they are right, IMG will be able to show off its 350-acre Bradenton, Fla. athletic facility, high school athletes will have more exposure to college and professional recruiters, and sports fans will have more games to watch.

Here’s how it would work, according to Wieberg:

The national high school federation is weighing national championships at the end of each sport’s traditional season. Qualifying high school teams would advance from their respective states.

The board is looking at the feasibility in a limited number of non-team sports — golf, tennis, perhaps cross country— as soon as the end of the next school year, with the promise of expanding the menu to all sports but football (which has too long of a season already).

But not everyone’s too hyped about it.  There are obvious drawbacks.  Most importantly: the fact that football will be absent. Who – besides the athletes’ parents – is going to tune in to watch high school cross country or golf?

No one!

And of course there is also the missed school, increased pressure to perform, and excessive monetization of student sports.

“How much longer is it,” said Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, to the USAToday “before we’re at the middle school level?”

Lebowitz brings up a good point.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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