Georgia has officially joined the growing list of states to offer high school girls an opportunity to play flag football.
The Georgia High School Association announced last month that it has sanctioned girls' flag football for the 2020 season, making it the fourth state to do so.
The effort began with the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL team and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation funded girls' flag football programs at all 19 public high schools in Gwinnett County in 2018. Five more counties joined in 2019, giving Georgia 52 high schools participating in girls' flag football.
“We knew the need for more girls’ sports in Georgia was there, and that was enough for us to get started,” Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said in a press release.
A flag football championship has been held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the home of the Falcons — in Atlanta the last two years. Now, the competition is open to all schools in Georgia.
“The goal was always to get this program to become an officially sanctioned sport and give girls more opportunities to play sports in high schools and we are thrilled that the GHSA shared the same vision,” McKay said. “It’s an exciting time for high school sports in Georgia.”
Florida, Nevada and Alaska all recognize flag football as an official sport, including Florida being sanctioned in 2003 and currently fielding more than 250 teams.
“Seeing the positive influence this sport has on the players and the community is inspiring. The girls stand tall with pride and enthusiasm while receiving recognition from their families and friends in the stands,” Falcons community relations manager Amanda Dinkel said. “We see the organic growth of the sport through their desire to play and we are honored to have brought this opportunity to our communities and hope to continue this forward momentum bringing the sport to other states.”
Georgia’s numbers are on the rise. According to Savannah Now, Richmond Hill High School jumped at the opportunity.
“I applaud GHSA for expanding the opportunities for female athletes to showcase their skills in the athletic arena,” Richmond Hill athletic director Mickey Bayens said. “I personally believe the sport of flag football will boom in Georgia. There are still plenty of logistics to work out but we plan to make it a reality for our female athletes for the 2020-2021 school year.”