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Girls flag football closer to becoming varsity sport - FlagSpin

Girls flag football closer to becoming varsity sport

ROBBINSVILLE — Girls flag football took another step Wednesday on what appears to be an inevitable path to becoming a full-fledged varsity sport.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a two-year girls flag football pilot program for 2024 and 2025.

The program gives the NJSIAA, which governs most New Jersey high school sports, time to study flag football’s impact on other sports as well as determine its own regulations and structure, such as the logistics of a state tournament. NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire said the National Federation of State High School Associations is currently writing flag football rules.

“This sport is on the horizon,” Maguire said. “It’s evolving.”

Girls flag football is played in the spring. It’s quickly become popular the past two seasons in New Jersey due in large part to the support of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets and Giants. Maguire said 83 flag football teams and more than 2,000 girls participated in New Jersey last spring.

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“We anticipate these numbers are going to grow,” Maguire said.

The West Jersey Girls Flag Football League featured 14 teams last spring, including Mainland Regional, Oakcrest, Absegami, Hammonton, Middle Township, Cedar Creek and Ocean City.

Tim Watson and Cedar Creek High School football are synonymous.

New Jersey flag football features 7-on-7 competitions. There are many different rules and dynamics with flag football. For example, each game is 48 minutes, or two halves of 24, the fields are shorter in both length and width than a traditional football field, and kickoffs and fair catches are altered.

Contact is not allowed, and penalties are added, like for flag guarding or if a player removes a flag before the offensive player touches the ball. Players running with the ball are not allowed to dive for extra yardage. After a touchdown, a team can go for one, two or three points.

New Jersey flag football is currently considered a “club sport.” That means girls can play other spring sports, such as softball and lacrosse, and still participate in flag football. When and if the NJSIAA recognizes flag football as an official varsity sport, that will no longer be the case.

Flag football will still be a club sport during the pilot program.

“We’re not going to step in and change anything right now,” Maguire said. “That’s why we’re going to go slow and steady and see the impact of this.”

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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