Last year, in a milestone development that flew beneath the radar of national media, flag football surpassed tackle football as the most commonly played form of the game among children ages 6 to 12, according to annual survey data by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Last week, the LA84 Foundation, a major grant-maker to youth sports programs in Southern California, announced that it would no longer fund programs that offer tackle football before age 14.
Today, our Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program releases a 27-page white paper that explores the consequences of this trend continuing. Eight months in the making, it asks: What if flag football becomes the standard way of playing the sport until high school? What are the implications for the sport, its stakeholders, and most importantly, the children who play the game?