Matching teams for play in a true national event where you have teams maintaining differing age cut-off dates, league rules, geographic boundaries and over a dozen other factors requires many things but largely, deep football knowledge, and caring about the safety and competitive game match-ups of the teams involved. Too often, leagues or others will throw up a website, throw up maximum age and weight parameters and then where the teams fall, they fall. While this sounds fair, the end result is often a disaster. 60-0 games become commonplace and this is a waste of time and money for everyone. Why? Just because two teams have the same MAXIMUM LIMITS does not mean they should be playing each other in an even up match-up. If it did, then the University of Alabama would play against Norfolk State every week (and when they do now on occasion, you can often SEE the results on ESPN SportsCenter - OUCH!)
To properly match teams for play, NYFC rosters are broken down and many factors are considered when we decide "who is going to play whom". The largest of these factors include: team maximum age, team team max weight (for limited weight divisions), size of the community the team is drawn from, average line and backfield weights, historical league and team strength, as well as age spread of the roster, top to bottom. The teams are then hand-matched into many different age & weight conferences. These conferences allow teams of similar age, similar weight, and similar SIZE & TALENT to play against each other (again, to produce more competitive football games). Why similar? Not all teams use the EXACT same cut-off dates. REMEMBER, the NYFC is KNOWN for this ability and it allows great games to be the RULE, not the EXCEPTION!
The conferences are given names such as National, American, Central, United, etc. to better identify and locate games on the large NYFC Game Schedule. Where groups bring multiple teams from the same park, all efforts are made to ensure the games are slated to be plated at the same or nearby locations to allow parents and possibly coaches with multiple players on BOTH teams easy access to seeing both siblings participate.
All NYFC divisions maintain competition ages ranging from 7&8 years old to 14, 15 and even 16 years olds, with teams attending the event from all parts of the Americas. Players who play school football are INELIGIBLE to play at the NYFC competition in most all divisions (contact SNI directly for any exceptions to this policy).
Most leagues regulate the MAXIMUM age and MAXIMUM weight of the teams in their league. This is because virtually every other important variable is controlled by the league simply by assuring that each district is approximately the same size. While regulating just MAX age & MAX weight is adequate for league play (even though you STILL get 40-0 football games), it is woefully inadequate as the sole criteria for any extra-league play such as an invitational, post-season youth football tournament and why it has not been a part of the NYFC in well over 20 years.
The competition divisions of the NYFC are set-up based on the teams who elect to attend the event each year. Each division is hand selected to produce the most evenly matched, competitive, safe football games possible to end the season. The NYFC DOES NOT maintain pre-ordained maximum age/weight divisions. Statistically, they are inferior to hand-matching teams into competition divisions and they do not inherently produce safe, competitive football match-ups, which remains the goal of the NYFC. All of the largest youth insurance companies across the United States have looked at the NYFC and not one has ever negated a team's ability to attend -- due primarily to the extra effort and care taken to ensure safe football games between teams. In fact, at the NYFC both the severity and quantity of injuries are lower than most league statistics show for their own league play.
Most smaller post-season tournaments still cling to posting archaic and dangerous age and/or weight standards that often favor their local teams. In fact, the NYFC utilized pre-posted age/weight divisions until 1985 when it was disbanded in favor of the hand-matching process that flourishes today. Since that time: final scores for all football games have become closer; injury statistics have improved overall; and teams attending from smaller towns have a more equitable shot at winning their games at the NYFC.
And again, because SNI has no league affiliation that affects the matching of teams OR the formulation of competition divisions, the match-ups are done in a fair and even-handed manner and not designed to favor any particular team or association.
As with any athletic contest, nobody can predict the outcome of games. However, by using the hand-matching method, history shows that the primary goals of the NYFC are promoted. This is another reason why so many teams choose to return to the NYFC.