Endorsed by the Buffalo Bills, Nike and the state Public High School Athletic Association earlier this year, Girls Flag Football has emerged as an up-and-coming spring sport that just might land on the city school district’s playing field.
Batavia’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Mike Bromley, presented the idea during Monday’s school board meeting. A while ago, he began to receive emails from prospective female players about the possibility of adding flag football to the city school district, he said. Ten girls from grades nine to 12 sent those notes asking if the sport would be offered in the spring.
A line of female students stood next to him as proof of that initial interest.
“Here are six future flag football players,” Bromley said. “There are 14 male sports, one unified sport of bowling for both boys and girls, and 13 female offerings. This would bring us into balance if that’s what we decided to do.”
In early 2022, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association sanctioned the sport, and eight teams in Section V were piloted this year, with 22 other regional districts indicating that they may form a team, Bromley said. Rules dictate a minimum of seven girls to a team, and Bromley believes 12 to 15 players would be a good starting number.
Games would cover a football field, and play would consist of two 24-minute halves plus a five-minute half-time. Equipment would include certified flag belts and youth-sized football.
The difference between regular football and one using flags is the lack of physical contact. While tackling is a huge part of the American game, flag football does not allow it. Players can kick, carry, and throw the ball to move it up the field. A defender may knock down a pass that’s in the air. If the player with the ball has his — or, in this case, her — flag pulled or if she goes out of bounds, she is called “down,” and the ball is dead.
Anticipated costs include a head and assistant coach, uniforms, officials’ services, two chaperones and a clock/video board operator, and transportation for four away games. The estimated total adds up to $9,391, which Bromley said could be offset with unexpended funds.
Board member Alice Benedict asked how many young women are interested in dual sports, and all six students raised their hands. They said that track is the other sport and that is first on their list, prompting Bromley to add, “so we have some challenges.”
How can it work here? Bromley suggested that dual sport participation is possible and doable, with late practices, Saturday contests and two to three practices per week. He’s also cognizant of spring coaches’ concerns that adding a spring sport may be a conflict for girls already in one of the other two offerings, he said.
With the season to begin in March 2023, there’s not much time to waste, Board President John Marucci said.
“Get your sign-up list going and see if there’s an interest,” he said.
The matter will return for a board vote in January.
Top 2020 File Photo of an impromptu flag football tournament at Williams Park in Batavia, by Howard Owens. Photo of Mike Bromley from the city school district website.