NFL, NAIA partnering to launch women's flag football as a varsity sport

The NFL and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics are making progress towards having women's flag football become a sanctioned college sport. On Monday, the two organizations announced their future plans to make women's flag football a college sport by 2021.

"Football is for everyone," NFL vice president Troy Vincent said in a statement. "This groundbreaking and historic joint venture provides an opportunity for the values, fun and competitive environment of football to be enjoyed as a varsity sport by female student-athletes attending NAIA institutions across America."

In a press release, the NAIA said that they plan to start the first women's flag football season in the spring of 2021. Schools will hold tryouts for interested athletes in the fall.

In order for women's flag football to be a sport in the NAIA, there have to be 15 schools that need to field teams. In addition, an "invitational championship" would be held if there are 25 participants. 

A minimum of 40 schools must have teams for a full championship to be held. The NAIA wants to host an emerging sports championship for a women's flag football league in 2022.

"Increasing female participation in flag football has been a top priority for NFL FLAG," Reigning Champs Experiences President and General Manager Izell Reese said. "By teaming up with the NAIA, we're able to create even more opportunities for young women to continue the sport they love, and potentially receive scholarships to continue their education and compete at the next level."

According to a 2018 New York Times article, flag football interest has gone up 50 percent since 2013.

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