Is flag football a real sport?


Image courtesy of Alex Rosa.

Alex Rosa, Multimedia Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

Imagine: an abnormally warm November day, the sun shining down on lumpy fields at Quarry Park. Kids from ages 6-18 playing a sport many consider to be a “joke,” however – it’s far from that. 

Flag football, an adapted version of tackle football, switches out tackles for flag pulls. Players wear a belt around their waist with flags attached that defenders pull to confirm a “tackle”. Other differences between the two variations include the amount of players on the field: traditional football has 11 players on offense and 11 players on defense, while flag football has only five players on the field for each team. Teams are allowed to send as many defensive players to blitz as they want, but they must stay seven yards back before the center snaps the ball. There are also no offensive linemen which provides reason for the seven yards back rule.

As an experience, the sport delivers thrills in every way, shape, and form. I entered into my third year of flag football with high expectations. I finally got the chance to play on a team that included a bunch of guys that I had met throughout the years playing flag football. 

To begin the season, my team lost the first two games in embarrassing fashion. We knew that we needed to make a comeback. Although none of us take the sport super seriously, we all still want to win. To finish out the season we won our last six games in a row, including a win against our “rival,” who had beat us earlier in the season. 

Leading up to the playoffs, we all shared a mutual excitement to get out on the field and play. For some reason, at the beginning of November, the weather gave us a balmy 70-degree day to work with. Pulling into my spot in the parking lot, I could hear the echoes of music from the speakers that one of the snack stand employees had brought.

My whole team was there an hour early to watch some of the games before us because of the nice weather. After waiting around for a bit, it was time for us to start warming up. We had already beaten the first team that we faced in the playoffs twice, so we figured that they would serve as no challenge to us as we worked our way to a championship. Even though we ended up winning, this was no easy game. Once the final whistle blew, the score read 20-19. My team narrowly pulled away with the win. 

Finally, what we had all been waiting for: the championship game. The team that won this game received some shockingly high quality rings for the occasion, all things considered. We walked over to the championship field for the game following our win, the one that would hand us a tiebreaker against our “rival.” 

We split a game a piece in the season matchups, and we had the opportunity to settle it here. To begin the game, the other team targeted me on a deep ball to one of their receivers. Unfortunately for me, he caught it, eventually leading to a touchdown. In the second half we were up 28-21 with five minutes left in the game. The other team decided to target me again on the same pass play that had worked earlier in the game. 

Little did they know, this time, I was ready for it. As the ball flew towards me, enveloped in the glare of the sunlight, I reached out and intercepted it. My team followed this up by scoring and subsequently, ending the game. 

We received our rings and let our anxious and obnoxious mothers take terrible pictures of us that only they would enjoy. I walked to my car with the fresh feeling of victory. 

Now, you tell me, is flag football a real sport?