Flag Football and Title IX
Five thousand girls in Florida play flag football in high school as a school-sponsored sport. It’s the fastest growing high school sport in the state.
The interest is so high that some schools field teams at the freshman, junior, and varsity levels and still make cuts. The sport is cheap and girls who never considered themselves particularly athletic are trying out and having fun.
So what’s the problem? The sport began about 10 years ago when the Florida legislature required schools to keep records of student participation by gender to comply with Title IX. As a result, schools adopted flag football and competitive cheerleading for girls.
Advocates for equal sports opportunities for girls argue that flag football is a dead-end sport. In other words, there are no college teams or professional teams. All high school sports for boys have opportunities beyond high school.
But what are those opportunities? Over a million high school boys play football. Only 5000 scholarships are offered at Division I schools. About 430,000 girls play high school basketball, including 130,000 seniors. Only 32 (3.3%) played at NCAA schools, and only 1% of those players were drafted by the pros.
So from a purist standpoint, yeah, flag football isn’t an NCAA sport. But some girls who play it do play other sports, and one of the things girls say they like about flag football is that you can’t get a scholarship in it – so the pressure is off.
On the other hand, considering competitive cheerleading as a “sport” is another thing entirely. Why would you cheer for someone else when you could be playing the game yourself? Even if it's flag football?