Is football as we knowing it going the way of the dodo bird and complete-game pitchers?
That was the first question I asked when I heard that Casa Grande and Petaluma were planning to offer flag football as a competitive sport. As it turned out, the sport the local high schools are offering is a different bird. It is for girls and is planned as a non-contact sport. Of course, basketball was originally designed as a non-contact sport.
Flag football is nothing new. I played competitive flag football for three seasons for the Wright Elementary School Panthers. I played center because I was the only player on the team who could hike the football. Wright Elementary School is famous for its athletic alumni -well for one at least. The best running back ever in the Redwood Empire is a young man named Kai Hall who made quite a name for himself at St Vincent de Paul High School. He is a Wright School product.
But, I’m getting off the topic. The fact is, flag football is a fun, athletic and established sport in its own right. It can be, but isn’t necessarily, an entry gate to tackle football. There is a thriving youth flag football league on the east side of town.
I think that, if I had a youngster, I would prefer that he/she play flag football. There is enough evidence, both practical and empirical, to suggest that 10-12 is too young for kids to be colliding with one another, even with helmets and pads.
Kids will be kids and they are going to roughhouse and they are going to be injured, whether they are goofing around or playing tennis, but I don’t think we should be asking for trouble.
That being said, I would be delighted if my fictional son or daughter (if she really wants it) decided to play tackle football in high school. Teens’ bodies are more developed and they know better how to protect themselves.
I love high school football. It is physically demanding on the individuals, but it is a team game and a thinking game. We appreciate the big play, whether is on offense or defense, but how many realize how much time, effort and intelligence it took to put the player in the proper position to make that big play?
Every sport is, to some extent, a team game. The individual sports like wrestling or tennis instill a certain amount of comradery as players root for their teams and tally the results. It is why we keep score.
But football, more than most, relies on teamwork. How many yards would Hall have gained if he hadn’t had Cameron Vaughn, Robert Rooks, Brett Ghisletta and others blocking for him and quarterback Jaret Bosarge taking the pressure off with his passing and running,
One of the biggest lessons to be learned from all sports is teamwork and football is one of the best teachers.
I’ve also pointed out on many occasions that football is bigger than the game. It is a school and even community builder. It is the sport students, parents and the community rally around. It sets the tone for the entire school year.
Much has been made of the NFL’s decision to make its All-Star game a flag game. Nothing wrong with that. All-Star games, with the possible exception of the Major League baseball game, are designed for recognition and fun. There is no sense risking injury in a showcase.
That doesn’t mean that next fall Nick Bosa will be attempting to grab Patrick Mahomes’ flag.
I thing girls flag football is a great idea, but that doesn’t mean the end of life and football as we know them.
(Contact John Jackson at email@example.com)