Is Flag Football the new sporting trend?

by: Andrew Coakley, Sports Editor

Flag football is one of those kinds of sports that sits in middle earth as far as fans are concerned.
Because it’s not that much contact, it appeals to those who hate American football.  Because it is actually football (except for the contact and hard hitting), it appeals to football fans.
Perhaps it is this middle ground that apparently attracts massive amounts of people to the GB Sports Complex on Sunday afternoons.
There are fans who attend to watch family members play, there are those who go out to watch women play football (it’s a must see to appreciate) and then there are the hardcore football fans who go to cheer for their respective teams.
The bottom line is, flag football can actually be a family outing.
And that is exactly what newly elected executives of Bahamas Flag Football Association are hoping to achieve.
Thus far, they are getting their wish.
Take a drive out to the GB Sports Complex anytime after 1 p.m. and unless you know what’s going on, you may think you’re missing a major track and field event.  That’s how many cars fill the parking lot.  There is music in between periods and loud cheering during the game.
Yes, Flag football is drawing a crowd.
The local association has come a long way since they first began to play at the GB Sports Complex.  But the story of the development and growth of the sport is worth telling.
A group of guys were playing flag football long before they arrived at the GB Sports Complex.  
A number of guys had got together to play every Sunday at the Walter Parker Playing field.  Just for the fun of it and for the love of the sport.
Some say these were washed up contact football players who were too old to play in the local youth football league and too banged up to play in the Adult contact league.
However the story goes, these guys wanted to stay active and play the sport they love.  
Flag football seemed like the obvious alternative.  Not many people knew about it, because after all, they were just playing for the fun of it.
From there, the decision was made to bring this group of players together under an organized umbrella.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Since that time, the sport has grown from six men’s teams to 10 men’s teams and five female teams.
The fan base has exploded overnight.  
While they played at the practice field, they had a few fans, but since moving over to the major Complex, the fans have come out in droves.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the track complex has seating, access to bathroom facilities and for the fans, sitting up high to watch the game makes it feel more like an outing than anything else.
The increase in the number of teams may also have something to do with the increase in fan base.
Organisers say they are thankful to sponsors and those corporate businesses who have stepped up to the plate and sponsor various teams.
So far, it looks as if their sponsorship is paying off in dividends.
There is talk about getting to the point where they can have enough female teams to give the ladies their own respective league.
It’s a big goal and one some may think is impossible.
But then again, when the idea was first introduced, the nay-sayers thought it would have been impossible to get a female team together to play football.  
Now, they have five.
So, maybe, just maybe, the organisers are on track in daring to think big.
Flag football is a lot of fun and a great way to get in some physical exercise, without the fear of being knocked unconscious.  
For those who love football and who may want to avoid the hard hitting and extremely full contact, they should give flag football a shot.  The sport is growing in Grand Bahama and there is no doubt that the sport will continue to advance as more and more people become interested in the sport.

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