Flag football's national and international popularity is on the rise

By Endia Berger | Posted 12/6/2022

Flag football is growing across the United States and worldwide among all ages and genders. There were several thrilling flag football events for youth and adult athletes this year. These events show that flag football is continuing to grow on the recreational, high school and national levels. 

The 2021 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag Championships took place in Jerusalem, Israel last December. The U.S. Men’s and Women’s Flag National Teams both won gold against Mexico’s Flag National Teams. In February 2022, both U.S. Flag National Teams competed in The Rematch against Mexico’s Flag National Teams at the NFL’s Super Bowl Experience in Los Angeles. The U.S. Men’s Flag National Team came out on top once again. The U.S. Women’s Team lost to their opponents after a rigorous competition. The Rematch was successful in bringing more attention to flag football and the sport’s competitiveness. 

On the youth side of flag football, USA Football hosted the 2022 Junior Flag International Cup in June at the University of Michigan. The event included athletes from Canada, Japan, Panama and the United States. The U.S. Junior Flag National Teams comprised of 15U and 17U boys and girls competed well against the other teams and won their respective divisions. The event helped gain more exposure for flag football at all levels. 

The 2022 World Games, held in July in Birmingham, Ala., showcased the world’s eight best men’s and women’s flag national teams for the first time on a multi-sport, international stage. In the gold medal game, the U.S. Men’s Flag National Team faced Italy in an action-packed competition that ended with a 46-36 victory for the Americans. The U.S. Men’s Flag National Team made history, becoming the first team to receive a gold medal for flag football at The World Games. The U.S. Women’s Flag National Team claimed silver after facing Mexico’s Women’s Flag National Team in the finals. Flag football debuting at The World Games was a monumental moment for the growing sport. 

One of the demographics where flag football is growing the fastest is among girls. The number of flag football leagues and tournaments for girls are increasing. The Los Angeles Chargers and Rams are paving the way by sponsoring a girls’ flag football league. The league is already receiving attention from schools that are eager and ready to join. In addition, California is working to make flag football an official high school sport, while Colorado high schools launched girls' flag football in an inaugural season in the fall of 2022. At the adult level, the U.S. Women’s Flag National Team is paving the way for girls who aspire to play flag football domestically and internationally. The growth of flag football among girls and women shows that it is a sport for all. 

The National Football League (NFL) is hosting a flag football skills competition at the 2023 Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas that will include a competition between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. The week-long event will highlight flag football and players’ skills in innovative and fun ways. The Pro Bowl will be broadcast live on ESPN and ABC with the potential to receive millions of viewers. Flag football will be displayed in a new light, getting people excited for what is to come in the sport’s future. 

Flag football events in 2022, and those upcoming in 2023, are generating buzz in the flag football world. The boost in interest has influenced athletes associated with other sports to start taking about flag football, joining recreational teams in their free time, and even finding paths to a U.S. National Team. Flag football’s future is bright.