Football is a game that’s loved by millions of fans across the country, shown through participation and fandom – whether at the professional, college, high school or youth level.
Participation in football comes in different ways. There are kids who fall in love with the sport and start playing tackle at a young age, and there are kids who love the game, but aren’t ready to get on the field and tackle immediately. Fortunately, there are entry points to the game for players on any track or timeline.
My younger son needed an alternative path into football until he was ready to put on a helmet and shoulder pads… and our family found that avenue for him with flag football. My wife and I knew of the local flag football league, but we weren’t sure if he wanted to play. One day, my sons and I were talking about a friend of his that played flag football and my younger son started asking questions.
When we explained to him what flag football as all about, he got excited and was eager to play!
The great thing about flag football is that it teaches a child, or even an adult, all about the fundamentals and techniques that are found in every version of football.
Since many players on a flag football team rotate around from position to position, athletes can learn the function and responsibility of all positions. Youth flag players develop skills for throwing and catching the ball, they master rushing the quarterback without a tackle and they learn how to defend offensive players. Special teams also come into play with kicking extra points and field goals. Coaches can get very creative with plays, giving kids more time at certain positions if there’s a talent or interest there.
Now entering his third year of flag football, my younger son has blossomed into a football fanatic. He loves to watch games, really enjoys playing Madden and of course he learns about the game and strategies by playing. He’s even expressed an interest in giving tackle another try when he gets to middle school!
How awesome is flag football? After watching his brother play, my older son participates now too, even though he’s already playing tackle football for his school.
For parents, enrolling your child in flag football is the perfect way to get him/her involved with the sport, especially if they’re nervous about contact. Make no mistake about it – flag football is real football. It has fun, strategy, fundamentals and a chance to build a football family.
On the field at our local league’s games, there are players, coaches and officials. In the stands, there are parents, family and friends cheering on the action. That sure sounds like football to me! Telling you from experience, flag football a great way to participate in football and learn at the same time.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York. His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.
From flag to tackle, there are more paths to play football than ever before. The Football Development Model makes it easier to get started.