Aug 30, 2023 - News

California schools now offer girls' flag football

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The upcoming academic year will mark the first time students in California will be able to join girls' flag football as a state-sponsored varsity sport.

Why it matters: Girls' flag football has been around for years, but designating it an official high school sport will allow for expanded programming, funding opportunities and competition.

Catch up quick: The Federated Council of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the state's governing body of high school sports, unanimously approved the plan this year after a surge in interest among recreational leagues.

  • Support from California's NFL teams has also spurred widespread engagement across the state, with the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers piloting a regional high school league.
  • The San Francisco 49ers similarly backed the push for the state to sponsor the sport and the team has hosted several co-ed school camps, including a girls' flag skills jamboree last year. It has pledged to help with startup costs this season.
  • "We really want more women to be at the forefront in the world of sports, specifically in the football industry," flag football athlete and 49ers associate counsel Myka Bell said in a statement in February after the CIF's vote.

State of play: Flag football will be offered as a fall sport this year, though schools with pre-existing spring seasons can retain that schedule if they choose.

  • Teams will compete 7-on-7 in four 12-minute quarters, according to rules ironed out after the CIF's vote.
  • If enough schools participate, the state could set up regional and state championships.
  • The CIF, which is under California's Department of Education, has since shared campaigns focused on the message that football is a "game for all."

Zoom in: The San Francisco section of CIF, which covers the San Francisco Unified School District, has sponsored flag football locally since 2012 and has historically offered spring programs.

The big picture: California joins a growing list of states offering flag football in high school athletics, including Florida, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Francisco stories

No stories could be found

San Franciscopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more