Looking for more evidence that flag football participation is booming?
Consider this: USA Football will host “The One” in 2020. This national flag football championship will be among the country’s largest youth and adult flag tournaments, expected to attract teams from a national series of sanctioned tournaments and at-large entrants next summer.
The move marks the first time in USA Football’s 18-year history that the organization will sanction flag tournaments nationwide.
The One will be held July 24-26 at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., and include teams across 17 divisions from age 7 to adults. Grand Park’s 400 acres encompass a full range of championship-level outdoor facilities and is the training camp home of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts.
“Our flag football sanctioned tournament structure will set a new standard in quality within our sport’s community and enhance the experience of each competing athlete,” USA Football’s senior director of football operations Eric Mayes said in a statement.
Indeed, flag football tournaments sanctioned by USA Football will receive the national governing body’s marketing assistance, operational resources and staff support.
In addition to teams earning full or partial bids to The One through USA Football-sanctioned tournaments, youth and adult flag teams interested in competing in the annual championship are eligible for at-large entries and can register to participate.
According to the association, “youth and adult flag football tournaments can earn USA Football sanctioning. Among the unlimited number of general-sanctioned tournaments, eight youth and five adult tournaments will be recognized as qualifiers. Qualifiers will receive four fully financed bids to The One while general-sanctioned tournaments will receive four half-financed bids. All bids advancing teams to The One will be determined by the sanctioned tournament’s operator. Adult qualifier tournaments will also serve as formal evaluation opportunities for U.S. Flag National Teams.”
Given all that, flag football appears primed for an even bigger growth spurt, which could result in an increase in the number of travel tournaments for the sport.
This was the second major announcement from USA Football in a short span of time. Just before the beginning of the school year, the organization reported that six youth football programs spanning Utah to New York will pilot USA Football’s Football Development Model (FDM) in this playing season season. According to reports from the organization, the FDM is football’s first long-term athlete development model, aligning with the USOPC's American Development Model to build better players and increase participation.
"Youth football programs in Florida, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah piloting the FDM this season will benefit nearly 18,000 young athletes and more than 3,000 coaches combined," USA Football noted. "The leagues’ players, parents, coaches and leadership will provide USA Football feedback on the model throughout the season. Among the selected leagues’ characteristics are high rates of USA Football coach certification, geographic and population diversity, and successful league administration. The FDM teaches athleticism and the sport’s fundamentals in a progression across game-types spanning flag to tackle."
The youth leagues piloting USA Football’s Football Development Model in 2019 are the Frisco (Texas) Football League, (Des Moines) Iowa Development League, Miami Xtreme Youth Football League, Niagara Erie (N.Y.) Youth Sports Association, (Utah) Ute Football Conference and the Washington/Greene (Pa.) Youth Football League.
The program was created by USA Football with guidance from its Football Development Model Council. It has already won the approval of the NCAA, whose chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, called it a pathway that would allow athletes to "perform better, play longer and gain a lifelong path to athleticism, health and wellness through football."