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High school national championships mean the best team is settled on the field!

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You all can stop your arguing over who really is the best high school basketball, golf and tennis teams, because quickly things are heading in the direction of actual national high school championships.

An announcement from the IMG Academies, the Brandenton, Fla.-based sports school where parents pay big bucks for their kids’ athletic training and the right to for their children to be the veal in the official meat market for the agents of IMG:

IMG Academies and the National High School Coaches Association have signed a deal that will help dispel the annual debate of which state produces the nation’s best athletic teams and players by creating official High School National Championships.

If I had a nickel for every barfight I had to break up over which state had the nation’s best athletic teams and players…

Tournament-style team championships for 7-on-7 football, 7-on-7 lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ team tennis, and boys’ and girls’ team golf will begin at the Bradenton-based Academy in summer 2010, with plans for possible national television coverage and expansion to national championships for 20 sports in upcoming years. …

Modeled after the same bracket-style format that makes the NCAA men’s basketball March Madness and the College World Series so successful, the national championships will consist of All-Star teams chosen by successful coaches in each state. The 7-on-7 football teams will earn a spot through nationwide qualifiers. The coaches of the top-ranked golf, lacrosse and tennis teams in each state will earn the right to choose players to represent their state in the national championship.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the 10 million-plus high school athletes and their families who put a tremendous amount of time, effort and passion into their sports each year,” said George Pyne, President of IMG Sports and Entertainment. “This relationship with the NHSCA will give the best athletes and teams in the nation the recognition and visibility they so richly deserve.”

Currently, the NHSCA holds national championships for 7-on-7 football, weightlifting and wresting. The NHSCA plans to organize national championships for baseball, basketball, cross country, hockey, soccer, softball, track and field, and other sports in upcoming years.

If there are brackets like the NCAA basketball tournament, does that mean I can start a high school weightlifting office pool? And with high school football and basketball all-star games on television, national rankings through multiple web sites and ESPN Rise magazine, is there really a demand for more recognition? (Parents who continuously call and email small-town newspaper sports editors to berate them about why their lack of coverage is costing their kid a college scholarship say, “Yes!”)

The National High School Coaches Association, as the most loyal readers of this blog might recall, is the organization that dragged out Larry Holmes to promote its proposed $20 million high school athlete hall of fame. In other words, compared with the actual overseer of high school athletics, the National Federation of State High School Associations, it’s shameless.

Well, not for long. According to USA Today, the Indianapolis-based organization, just a stone’s throw from NCAA headquarters (I’m not exaggerating — the buildings are connected), is looking at developing its own 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.

“There’s a lot to work out — time frames, missing school, all those things,” says Ennis Proctor, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association and president of the national board. “If they can be worked out, it may be something that would be good eventually.”

And what’s with the change of heart? Competition from elite and travel teams. Hey, if you’re going to make athletes pay to play at school, you might as well offer the carrot of a national championship, eh? Again, from USA Today:

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.

It’s a shift in sentiment for the national federation. As national high school rankings proliferated, as elite teams traveled farther and farther from home to test and prove themselves and more of their games found their way onto national television, the Indianapolis-based federation has long resisted the prospect of national championships.

The move, Federation executive director Bob Kanaby says, comes amid “recognition out there that more and more individuals are putting on events that are national in scope. They are basically unregulated in terms of who they are and what they do and who they can associate with.”

What a sad, sad turn of events.

I mean, no national championship in football? We’re going to let the polls decide? Looks like I’m going to have to break up more bar fights.

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