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Flag Football: A Sport on the Rise

By Sara Mackulin, Pittsburgh Flag Football League, 10/04/16, 12:00PM CDT

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With the fear of concussions on parents’ minds, they are seeking a safe alternative to tackle football

Flag football used to be a pretty unpopular sport.  Numbers across the nation were low because kids were choosing other sports instead like baseball, soccer, and tackle football.  However, due to several factors, the number of youth participating in flag football continues to rise across the country, while the number of those playing tackle football is on the decline.

UPMC reports participation in tackle football for ages 6-14 has decreased from 3 million to 2.169 million in the last five years.  So why the decrease?

SAFETY

One of the reasons most of you are familiar with is in terms of safety when it comes to concussions.  Concussions are being talked about more and more with youth sports in terms of the impacts they can have on children now and later in life with the emergence of CTE.  According to the Harris Poll conducted by UPMC, “about 1 in 3 (32 percent) of parents live in fear that their child will get a concussion.”  

With the fear of concussions on parents’ minds, they are seeking a safe alternative to tackle football and other sports, which is where flag football comes into play.  UPMC estimates youth participation in flag football was up 8.7 percent in 2015 to 1.669 million in the 6-14 age group.  So it’s simple – flag football gives children the ability to learn the basics of the sport of football without putting their young bodies at a high risk of injury.

TIME

Another reason comes in terms of playing time and investment.  Flag football is a non-contact sport, therefore, you see smaller rosters than tackle football.  Last year, most of the PFFL youth teams had around 7-8 kids on their roster.  Smaller rosters mean more playing time for kids, something all parents want to see.  The investment time is also much smaller for flag football.  For the PFFL, kids show up one day a week, on Sundays, and get the best of both worlds with a practice and a game all in the same day.  

COST

Furthermore, the cost is much cheaper for flag football than tackle.  The cost is typically around $90 to $130, depending on the league, and you need to buy very little, if any equipment.  However, with tackle football, parents can be spending $200-$500 buying all the necessary equipment for their child.  Sometimes, parents have trouble affording the high expenses of getting their child involved in a sport, but flag football is an exciting and less costly alternative.

IT'S FOR EVERYONE

Flag football is special compared to other sports; it’s inclusive for kids of all abilities.  Your children do not have to be football players to play flag football.  They can be soccer players, baseball players, or hockey players.  If they have one skill useful for flag football, such as speed, hand-eye coordination, or even qualities like hardworking and determined, they can learn to play flag football.  

Flag football is beneficial to children who don’t even necessarily want to play football in the future, but just want to explore new options, get exercise, and meet new friends. So get your child signed up for flag football today!  The deadline for PFFL youth registration is September 1st so don’t wait!