Well, folks, we have another national championship to attend and cheer for this fall. It's the classic battle to see who is the best EIGHTH-GRADE football team in the nation.

Football University (FBU), the elite invitation-only football camps with NFL faculty designed for football athletes from grades six through 11, is staging the first Football University National Championship to determine the top eighth-grade youth football team in the country. This 32-team national championship begins Thanksgiving weekend and is five rounds long and features 32 state-based teams. The first three rounds will take place at regional sites and the semifinals and finals will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio following the U.S Army All-American Bowl in January, 2012.

FYI, FBU is operated by the New Jersey-based sports marketing company All American Games, which owns and produces the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that airs on NBC each January, and is a leader in putting on youth and prep athletic events such as the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, American Baseball University, and the football reality show, "The RIDE."

All American Games president Rich McGuinness is touting the event as "different." He also is promoting it as "November Madness", a reference to NCAA basketball's "March Madness." "This is more than an all-star game or weekend tournament," he says. "This is a real national championship. This is a chance to play with great athletes and represent your state."

The event seems very organized. McGuinness states that the teams are composed of the top 35 athletes from each state. Kids are identified through FBU's network of state tournament directors, the more than 40 FBU camps in various U.S. cities, through nominations for the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl games, and through those nominated on the tournament's web page. For the first year, the tournament will have just 32 teams. However, plans are to expand the tournament next year to include some states that were turned down for this year's event.

One unique aspect of the first weekend is that there will be both 7th- and 8th-grade games, with the 7th-grade games serving as as a "prelim" to the 8th-grade games. The top 7th-graders from each team will then be eligible to play for the 8th-grade team as a "taxi squad" of reserves. No mention is made of how the best 7th-grade players will be chosen. The FBU will provide uniforms to all athletes and bussing support for rounds three, four, and five.

Wow! This sounds like a phenomenal experience, right? Just wondering, though, for the kids who do qualify for these 7th- and 8th-grade state teams..when will they go to school during the course of this tournament? Let's examine the time involved here. First, there will be invitations to try out. Then when the teams are chosen, there will be practice time involvement. Not to mention the time to drive to these tryouts and practices.

After the teams are chosen, there is the time to travel to these regional sites for the first three rounds. And, of course, time to travel BACK from these regional sites. And if your team is lucky enough to qualify for the semifinals and finals, there is the time to travel to San Antonio, Texas for a couple weekends. Shall we talk about expenses to parents for the privilege of accompanying their sons to these events? Hotel, food, admission into games, gas for the car, airline travel at some time during this national championship race, etc. Naw, let's not go there.

This is another classic case of overkill and youth sport abuse in my book. This is the football version of youth sport select teams, only a little more grandiose. It all sounds great on paper. But what you're asking 7th and 8th grade boys and their parents to do borders on the ridiculous. There will be missed school time, most likely the Friday and Monday before and following the weekend tournament if extensive travel is needed. Not to mention missed work time for parents.

Middle school and junior high teachers and administrators will not be thrilled because they will be asked to give special privileges and homework arrangements to the students who qualify from their schools. Yes, the school folks will be proud that their student "made" the state team, but there are usually underlying consequences for missed school time, whether it's excused absences or not. And with the players and parents having to pick up the majority of expenses, this will be a very costly venture for families.

But I guess there is actually a price for fame. And for those 7th- and 8th-grade football players and their families who participate in this national youth football championship, it may turn out to be a very high price.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Brennan, a former educator and college basketball coach, has Masters degrees in Educational Administration and Sport Psychology, and a Doctorate in Performance and Health Psychology. He is the author of several books, including Six Psychological Factors for Success and The Recruiters Bible (3rd Edition). He is President of Peak Performance Consultants, and the President and CEO of the Center for Performance Enhancement Research and Education (CPERE). Steve is the developer of the Success Factors Scales, both Corporate and Athletics Editions. http://www.peakperformanceconsult.com and http://thebestcollegerecruiter.com/