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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Flag Football

Flag Football
My son just (last Saturday) called me up very excited about his son’s win in an organized flag football game.  He is the head coach, and as excited as he was about the win, he was happy about how both teams, coaches and players, were such good sports.  It was a tough game but the losers took it in stride and everyone was friendly afterward.  He was excited to be part of teaching children life lessons through sports.
I had a similar feeling from my youngest son's experience playing flag football.  I don’t know why flag football is more relaxed than other competitive sports for young children but in the two leagues I know of, they are 2 for 2.
The rules are simple. It is football with grabbing a tail or “Flag” from a set of three on each player, instead of tackling.  There is no blocking, everyone is eligible to catch a pass and you are only allowed one run play per set of downs.  Everyone plays the same amount of time.  Everyone has the chance to run back a kick or play quarterback.
The coaches keep score.  There is a winner and there is a loser.  There is a league standing, but in the end somehow no one gets too exercised over the final result.  No one get a trophy.  Everyone gets a nice team sweatshirt at the end of the year.
The very first game my son played in I was given a crash course in how this league worked.
I was helping out as an “assistant coach” in a game that went back and forth TD after TD.  Near the end of the game, our team was leading by five points.  There is a clock on the field so it was easy to see the time remaining.  Our opponents completed a pass play to our five-yard line.  Time was running out and the other team used their last time out to have one more play to try and score to win the game.
Our team stopped their play.  They had one more down, but with the clock running down and only one second left, the win was clearly in our pocket.
Our coach ran out on the field yelling “Time out, time out.”
I was screaming to myself, “What…no…no!  Oh, the humanity!”
The other team had one more chance to score.  We stopped them again.  We won a very close, very exciting game.
After everyone shook hands and the kids all ran around passing, and catching, and kicking before the next game started I went up to our coach.
“Coach, the clock was going to run out and the game was ours.  You gave them one more chance. Why did you call that time out?”
His answer was simple and it established for me what this league was all about.
“I just wanted to see if we could stop them one more time.”
In thinking about it, that is pretty much what we would have done as kids when there was no supervision in our back yard pickup games.


  1. You had me at: "No one gets a trophy." I'm also glad to see there's a winner and a loser. Makes it even more like back yard pickup games.

  2. Nice to see a junior sport where the kids have fun and learn to lose gracefully. That really is what sports should be about. None of the current wimpy, no losers, everyone's a winner business.

  3. It sounds fabulous. That's what most parents should want for their children.

  4. I know nothing about football, but this sounds good to me.

  5. I never cared for football much and, while I have heard the term flag football, I never really knew what it was. It sounds like what all kids' organized team experiences should be. I know it's not though -- or at least wasn't when I was growing up -- my own father being the absolute worst example as a little league coach.

  6. I always liked flag football better than other sports, rules more like our backyard games makes more sense.

  7. I'm afraid, I was born with a strong competitive nature and so was my 1st husband who was a big jock in HS where we met. Thus we created 3 competitive boys. My youngest was the big jock- quarterback in HS football for 2 years and he played college football before leaving for the military. I always tried to tell them, about how it takes more character to lose than to win. The only problem was he was always on a winning team that went to championships and such. He learned even more about teamwork when he was serving his country. I can't say enough about how sports can be good for young people; even if it is competitive. Sets them up for the real world.

  8. What a refreshing post. I didn't know much about flag football but from what you said, I am a fan. Wish all sports could be just fun to play, where winning isn't EVERYTHING and neither cheating nor drugs are deemed necessary evils.

  9. We called it "two-below football"...two hands tapping the runner below the waist instead of little flags. Same principle, same game, same good sportsmanship. Good times!

  10. An interesting thing for a coach to do. His teak could have lost because of him.