The Original “Extreme” Sport
Modern football and flag football — also called touch football — parted ways in 1905. Until then, it was all one game, played without protective equipment and with virtually no physical restraint. The modern game of American Football is tame compared to its early roots when in the early 1900’s President Teddy Roosevelt threatened to ban the sport because of plays like the “Flying Wedge.” The play involved a number of offensive linemen with suitcase handles sewed onto their pants forming a wedge with lineman holding on to the player in front, and a ball carrier safely positioned in the middle. As the “wedge” rumbled down the field the opposition players went “flying” and were left in a crumpled mass on the ground in its wake. With so many broken bones and other serious injuries- even deaths, safety rules had to be applied. Thus helmets, shoulder pads and other protective equipment now define the modern game of football.
But not Flag Football … no helmets and shoulder pads allowed …When 18 young men died from the violent play, President Roosevelt stepped in to bring order to the sport. Modern football, with its rules and protective equipment, was born. But some men never stopped playing the old way, without helmets and shoulder pads, and these were the forefathers of flag football.
Webster’s Dictionary officially dates flag football to 1933. Not long afterward, by the 1940s, it was all the rage on U.S. military bases as servicemen chose up sides and played against each other. Since America could not send football-battered soldiers into combat, tackling a ball carrier to stop him was replaced with the safer practice of grabbing a flag attached to his clothing. When the flag was taken, the player was stopped.
When men left the military and went home to their families, they took flag football with them. The game spread to America’s cities and suburbs. Early recreational leagues were in place by the 1950s. A decade later, in the 1960s, the first flag football organization, the National Touch Football League, formed in St. Louis. The NTFL tweaked the rules a little so that a ball carrier was stopped by touching him, eliminating the flags attached to players’ clothing.
By the 1970s, flag football had infiltrated college campuses and intramural teams formed, with students at each school playing against each other. The University of New Orleans hosted the first National Collegiate Flag Football Championship in 1979. Two years later, in 1981, the sport opened up to allow schools to play each other when the inaugural National Collegiate Flag Football Championship took place in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The NTFL was still going strong in 1988 when its regional director left the organization to form the United States Flag Touch Football League. In 1989, the United States Flag Football League Semipro formed in North Carolina. Going “semipro” allowed teams to represent their cities, and winners to take cash prizes; although they were not actually paid for their play. The American Flag Touch Football League came together in 1991. In 1997, all the organizations joined and formed the Professional Flag Football League, Inc. and flag football went pro. The first PFFL Pro Flag Bowl took place in 1997, and the first PFFL season with a travel schedule began in 1999 with six teams representing Buffalo, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio.
The Empire State Sports Council is pleased to announce Flag Football as an Official Sport of the 2013 Liberty Games! If you are interested, and wish to compete for the State Title, you may now Register online by going to our website designed just for the games @ In fact, if you Register early you can qualify for special prizes (see Below).
Because the Liberty Games are built around the concept of T-E-A-M (Together Everyone Achieves More), we would like to make a spot in each of the articles written, that will announce the arrival of each Sport, to impress upon you the importance of each of the individual Sport’s Chairs, as they are critical in the effort to Bring Back the Games! The Flag Football Sport’s Chair is Frank Rogers. When asked about Flag Football being part of the Liberty Games Mr. Rogers responded saying, “It is great to see that, finally, someone has recognized that Flag Football should be treated as a competitive sport, and to have it included in such a large event among so many more sports is a welcomed accomplishment for Flag Football.”
The Empire State Sports Council is very excited to have Mr. Rogers on our TEAM, and we hope you will enjoy taking part in the upcoming competition. Moreover, we are so excited that we are offering the following promotion. Be one of the first to purchase the Official Liberty Games Sportswear, as the Empire State Sports Council will hold a drawing of the first 100 Athletes, in each sport, that purchase Liberty Games Sportswear, and the selected Athlete will receive a Gift Card to a local restaurant for $10! In addition, the winners from each sport will be placed into a larger drawing, which will be made at the Opening Ceremonies of the Liberty Games, and the winner will receive a Free Apple iPod. The runner-up will receive a $50 Gift Certificate from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Don’t wait, be one of the first 100 athletes in your sport to purchase Official Liberty Games Sportswear, and you can be a winner today!
In the meantime, be sure to Like Us on Facebook, as we look forward to making so many new friends. If you are in a position to do so, we would certainly appreciate your support of the 2013 Liberty Games. Please take just a minute right now to click the DONATE NOW button at the top of the page and make a contribution of any amount, the Empire State Sports Council would greatly appreciate it!