The game’s popularity stems from its accessibility and inclusivity, most notably as a way for women to participate in football. It can be played by people of all ages and abilities on any field, gym, or open space and its non-contact and low-cost nature make it a perfect option for schools and recreational leagues worldwide.
“When we talk about the future of the game of football, it is, no question, flag,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations. “When I’m asked what the next 100 years looks like when you look at football, not professional football, it’s flag. It’s the inclusion and the true motto of ‘football for all.’ There is a place in flag football for all.”
Flag football is a non-contact form of American football. Each team has five players, and the format prioritizes speed, creativity, and athleticism.
Every game begins with a coin toss to determine which team will start with the ball. Games feature 15-to-25-minute halves, depending on the league, and the clock only stops for injuries, halftime and timeouts (each team has one 60-second timeout per half).
The starting team begins on its own five-yard line and has four plays to cross midfield for a first down. If the offense fails to advance after three tries, they have two options: they can punt, or they can go for it. But if they still fail to cross midfield, the opposing team takes over possession from the spot of the ball.
If the offense crosses midfield, they have three plays to score a touchdown. The rules of flag football only differ slightly from tackle football when it comes to scoring: a touchdown is six points, a safety is two, and teams can opt to try either a one-point conversion from the five-yard line or a two-point conversion from the 10-yard line after scoring a touchdown.
NFL FLAG is the official flag football league of the NFL and the largest flag football organization in the U.S. It currently has more than a half-million youth athletes competing in all 50 states, with a particular focus on expanding women's flag football.
The program wants to increase the number of kids participating, with an emphasis on increasing the number of programs in under-resourced communities. Through partnerships, NFL FLAG has brought flag football to thousands of schools, communities and families around the country.
One partnership, GENYOUth's NFL FLAG-In-Schools program, has distributed more than 37,000 flag football kits to physical education programs across the country since 2014, reaching an estimated 2.3 million students.
"NFL FLAG-In-School opens the door of accessibility to all students regardless of gender, age, class, physical ability, and ethnicity to benefit from the many transferable values that the game of football offers," said Vincent, Sr. "The NFL, GENYOUth, and NFL FLAG partnership aims to effectively resource under-resourced schools in meeting physical activity needs with America's most popular and fastest-emerging team sport. Football for all!"
Recently, the NFL FLAG-In-School program expanded to international students — providing kits for students in Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.