7-on-7s: A deadly sin?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association is putting its foot down when it comes to offseason football, mainly because of the growth of 7-on-7 camps.

The Ohio rules state that players are not permitted to participate in any kind of organized football between the end of the season and June 1. Athletes who participate would be ruled ineligible for the fall.

It's created a bit of a debate among athletes. While the Buckeye State isn't the only place where the high school's governing body doesn't allow preseason 7-on-7s, some players feel cheated by the rule.

"The main thing that differs in Ohio is you can only do it in the summer period [June 1 to July 31]," OHSAA director of information Tim Stried said. "It can be done, but where a lot of it starts happening is in May or April, and that's not allowed. The main reason is to protect participation in other sports. If kids do workouts and get together and throw the ball on the field on their own, there's certainly nothing wrong with that. We certainly encourage that, but 'organized spring football' is not something the OHSAA is in favor of adopting."

So that means players such as 2013 Ohio State recruit Cam Burrows (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) had to wait until the beginning of June to participate in 7-on-7s, while others such as incoming Ohio State freshman Armani Reeves (West Roxbury, Mass./Catholic Memorial) got a jump on others.

It's a battle Burrows sees as detrimental to Ohioans.

"It's disappointing because all the other states get to have spring football and do all the other things," Burrows said. "They have an advantage over us. They basically play football all year-round. We have a limit and that holds us back. I wish we could have spring football. We just have to swallow the pill and deal with it."

Reeves backed up Burrows, saying being in live action early only makes high school teams better in the fall and thought there should be no need for it to be governed.

Stried acknowledged those concerns, but said the rule protects more than just the athlete, as it has spring sports in mind as well. In this day and age, the three-sport superstar has become a dying breed as many athletes concentrate on one sport.

"We want to protect the spring sports, but also make sure kids get a break and that they're not playing football all year-round," Stried said. "I respect [Burrows'] enthusiasm for football and the sport of football, but we have the big picture in mind.

"That has all of our 24 sports in the picture, especially in the spring, where we have three boys sports in baseball, track and tennis. Our stance is that if we would have spring football, we would lose participation in the other boys' spring sports. We want kids to play several sports if possible. We think we have really good football in Ohio and we don't especially need spring football."

It's a view that is shared by Warren Ball. A soon-to-be freshman at Ohio State, Ball (Columbus, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales) wasn't allowed to participate in the 7-on-7s before June and still landed a scholarship.

The way the 6-foot-1, 205-pound running back sees it, if someone is good enough, they will get noticed.

"It was a good chance to get some chemistry down," Ball said. "But the main things in football happen when you get the pads on. Personally, 7-on-7s are fun, but it's really not the game. From my standpoint a rule is a rule, so I'm fine with it. Honestly, it's one of those things where you just deal with it."