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[EDITORIAL] Flag football should be on the roster, but is it really the best choice for women’s sports?

While flag football is a fun football-alternative, female students should be encouraged to play “regular” football as well.
Powderpuff+players+face+off+during+the+annual+Homecoming+game+-+but+why+must+flag+football+be+relegated+to+once+a+year%3F
Photo by Emily Ziajor
Powderpuff players face off during the annual Homecoming game – but why must flag football be relegated to once a year?

The last few years have seen an influx of “girls” sports: the addition of girls’ wrestling, girls’ lacrosse, girls’ rugby and even girls’ rowing. Just recently, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced girls’ flag football will be incorporated as an official sport on its docket this fall as well, and while we at the Wildcat Chronicle celebrate this is a huge step in the right direction, the announcement does raise some eyebrows, though perhaps not for the expected reason.

Flag football is a non-contact alternative to football where players pull tags off of the opponents’ belt instead of tackling them. The Illinois High School Association has officially appointed flag football as a girls’ sport starting this coming autumn. Already, there are 100 girls’ flag football teams in Illinois, per IHSA. 

The growing selection of women’s sports for students in Illinois is a step in the right direction. With women’s athletics finally being recognized, young girls are encouraged to stay active and have fun with their peers through involvement in high school sports.

It is common knowledge that sports have many positive affects on impressionable minds. Physical activity can reduce stress, levels of depression, and better sleeping habits among other things. In this regard, we could not be more thrilled that flag football could potentially make its way to West Chicago Community High School in the future.

The addition of girls’ flag football on the IHSA roster is a step in the right direction. (Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Some people believe that it is good that the state has opened the eyes to inclusiveness towards all genders and not judge performance based-off of sex. However, we question why football – as in the tradition game with tackling – was not on the table for girls. Sure, girls can try out for the football team, but when was the last time one actually did (the correct answer, for five points, is 2019). Those of us who are seniors at WEGO have never seen a female play on the football team (likewise, we have not seen a boy on the badminton team, either). 

While it is great that there are more women’s sports being added to the roster, we find it strange that they decided to go with a non-contact sport. Girls have just as much capability to play regular football as guys do, so there is no need to attempt to keep the game “safer” for girls. Despite difference in athleticism, girls and guys share many other sports and football should be no different. 

Some say that the game is inherently sexist, where women are playing a downgraded version of actual football because they are too ‘delicate’. The actual origins of the title powder-puff come from the product women used in the 1940s to set the foundation on their face. The connotations of the word imply a fragile perspective on women playing the ‘same sport’ as men. While it is true that flag football requires no contact, it significantly lowers the possibility of getting injured. The actual motives behind the game fixate more on communication, thoughtfulness, and participation, none of which are “bad” by any means.

Perhaps the girls do not want to play football. Perhaps they are content with flags. No concussions that way, right? But we question whether there was even a conversation about a female football offering before IHSA agreed upon flag football.

While some of our “tough girl” egos may be bruised, we have to look at the positive. Overall, the addition of flag football to the fall sports selection is a great option for girls looking to get more involved in athletics. We sincerely hope that West Chicago Community High School’s athletics department hires a coach and finds enough players to warrant a team. If the school cannot provide an official team, the possibility of a club or intramural sport being offered could be a good alternative. In fact, offering intramural sports at WEGO would help students feel included and not put under pressure when it comes to dedicating time to practicing with a team. Yes, having a good and consistent turnout could be a step in the right direction when it comes to establishing girls’ flag football as an official sport at the local level.

And we truly hope that the girls who do play have the time of their lives.

But perhaps in the future, we should let the girls decide what “version” of the sport they want to play.

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About the Contributor
Emily Ziajor
Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager
Emily Ziajor is a WEGO senior in her second year of journalism. She attended the National High School Journalism Convention last November, and thoroughly loved the experience. She is a Polish-American (she finished her final year of Polish School in the spring of 2023) with a creative soul and high aspirations. When it comes to writing, she has a sharp imagination, and one of her true passions is photography. Emily is a multi-year member of the AV Club at West Chicago Community High School.
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  • Mr. AielloMar 8, 2024 at 10:53 am

    Very thought provoking article. I would be interested to hear if girls would be interested in football as well.