Nike’s Opening part of football’s step in the wrong direction

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Top football players from Southern California won’t be practicing with their teams this week and won’t be playing in summer seven-on-seven passing competitions this weekend. They’re headed for Oregon to participate in the Opening, an event presented by Nike.

All the players’ travel expenses are being picked up by Nike. Bryce Treggs from St. John Bosco, Raymond Ford from Gardena Serra and Jordan Simmons from Encino Crespi are among the players taking part. Treggs won’t be playing in Saturday’s Edison passing tournament.


The Nike competition will include training and seven-on-seven competitions and a lineman competition. I’m sure no player would turn down the opportunity to participate.

‘I don’t think it ever gets too much,’ Treggs said Tuesday after arriving in Beaverton, Ore. ‘It’s fun.’

But it’s a case of football mimicking the pattern of basketball, with players taking off most of July to be on travel teams. Are football coaches prepared for the consequences?

Of note, there are no Anaheim Servite players in Oregon this week. None were invited. Troy Thomas, coach of the two-time defending Pac-5 champions, said he told his players to get all their camp stuff done during their dead period in June.

Come next school year, the California football season will have opening games a week earlier, in late August, which means teams will be focusing on practicing harder in July. If their top players are away at camps, combines and competitions, that’s going to cause problems.

And what happens if another shoe company decides to hold its own ‘opening’ the week after Nike? Will coaches let their top players leave for that too? When will coaches say enough is enough?

Then there are the growing number of national all-star football games -- an attempt to cash in on the sport -- as well as the proliferation of independent seven-on-seven tournaments. And college coaches are pressuring players to show up in June at their camps if the kid wants to be offered a scholarship.

Is anyone feeling uncomfortable with the changes taking place in football? The NCAA, the CIF and the people who don’t want football to follow the path of basketball need to step in.

Correction: An earlier version of this blog listed Jordan Payton of Oaks Christian as planning to attend the Nike event. He was not invited.

-- Eric Sondheimer