before the "X Games" or the " X F L "
flag football ...
EXTREME SPORT !
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 lineman 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 it's 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 ...
The game of
American football has been played since the mid-1800's. The
first College game occurred between Princeton and Rutgers on
Nov. 6, 1869. And the professional game has been played in some
form since 1895.
The game of Touch and Flag Football has been around nearly
as long as tackle football.
The first remembrance of organized Touch and Tail Football being played
was in the 1930's. Flag football was developed on military bases
in the early 1940's as a recreational sport for military personal. Recreational leagues soon developed in the
late 40's early 50's. They were patterned around the softball league
format and the game we know and love today was born.
As a freshman in 1973 at
Washington University in St. Louis, I was introduced to touch and flag football.
At that time St. Louis already enjoyed a long history of
organized league play. St. Louis is the birthplace
of the first national flag football organization - the National
Touch Football League. It was formed in the 1960's and has played a
national championship game since 1971. It also produced the first
standardize rulebook and it's Hall of Fame for flag football
players has been adopted buy other national organizations.
The college intramural game of the 60's and 70's was a 7 man
contact game that in no way resembles the non-contact
"screen flag football " game played today. The annual National Collegiate Flag
Football Championships are played each December at the University
of New Orleans. There has been a National College Champion crowned
on the UNO campus every year since 1979. The first non intramural screen
flag national championship game was first played in 1981. For several
years the tournament was held in Shreveport, LA.
The first major competition to the NTFL was formed in
1988 as an outgrowth of the NTFL when it's regional director Mike Cihon
broke free to create the United States Flag Touch Football League. The USFTL National Flag
Football Tournament in Orlando is the largest non college tournament in
the nation. It drew 175 teams in January 2002 and crowned 11 National
The next year, the United States Flag Football League Semipro
was incorporated in North Carolina by Tim Langdon. The concept
was to have teams represent a franchised city and it offered
cash awards for players at tournaments. It would later become
the basis for the first professional league.
was formed in 1991 by George Higgins after a dispute between Higgins and
USFTL director Mike Cihon. The league has grown from it's Long Island
roots to host a competing national championship tournament in Atlanta in
"national organizations" have formed since the mid 90's to
take advantage of the more than 20 million players participating in flag
football programs. As the list grows, there have been many attempts to
"unify" flag football. The crown just one national champion
In 1997, an attempt was
made in this direction with the formation of the Professional
Flag Football League, Inc.. The directors of the USFTL, AFTFL and
the USFFL met in Cleveland, Ohio and agreed in principal to have the top
nine man teams in the nation participate in four regional tournaments in
the summer of 1998. The events were played in Cleveland, Raleigh, Pittsburgh,
and Albany. The winners of these four events would take home $2,500 in
cash and play a single elimination "Pro Flag Bowl" on the Hall
of Fame field in Canton, Ohio. The Cleveland Gibbs team won three of the
events and $7,500 in cash. They met in Canton with the Baltimore
Cowboys, the Metro Chiefs from Washington, DC, and New York's LoMonico's. Cleveland played a Baltimore team that featured former
Virginia QB Shawn Moore and Maryland QB Brian Cummings in the
Championship Game. Cleveland won a hard fought game and added a Pro
Championship Ring to their long history of flag football successes.
Cleveland Gibbs - 1998 Pro Flag Bowl Champions
Cutters - 1999 Pro-Flag Challenge Champions
In 1999, the PFFL
played the first ever professional flag football travel schedule with
teams in Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Indianapolis.
The games were played in regulation format. Cleveland won the
regular season with the best record overall. But with three teams
folding before the end of regular season play and a failure of the
Buffalo team and Cleveland team to play the scheduled league
championship game, the league was deemed only a partial success. The
failure of league play was overshadowed a successful six event Pro-Flag
Challenge Tournament series that saw a great Cutters team from Maryland
win the 2nd Pro Flag Football Championship in Atlantic City.
Will there be an
attempt to unite the leagues again ... the history of flag
football has not been written, but chances are slim. Why? Because
flag football has become BIG BUSINESS.
Copyright - Tim Langdon - All Rights Reserved
History of Women's
and Girls Flag Football