By Wil Crews
Through the support of the Atlanta Falcons, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and NFL FLAG, a monumental step toward gender-inclusivity in Alabama high school sports was announced last week.
“In partnership with the Atlanta Falcons and NFL FLAG, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) announced Tuesday at its 13th Annual Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference that girls flag football will be a sanctioned sport in 2021,” read an AHSAA press release from April 6. “The new sport will be available for member schools beginning in the fall.”
There’s no word on how the decision will affect local schools yet. The Observer reached out to many for comment. Opelika Athletic Director Mike Pugh said “we have not had time to discuss and determine the amount of interest yet.”
According to the release, the AHSAA Central Board of Control approved sanctioning the sport at its January 2021 meeting, giving AHSAA the nod to pursue the partnership. Furthermore, the release said the inaugural season will culminate in December with a championship game at the 2021 Super 7 State High School Football Championships in Birmingham.
“After discussions with the Atlanta Falcons for several months, we are excited to be adding this girls’ sport for our membership. We think it will grow rapidly,” said Associate Executive Director Alvin Briggs, who oversees the sport of football for the AHSAA. “The AHSAA appreciates the support, commitment and funding being provided by the Atlanta Falcons, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and NFL FLAG.”
The release went on to say that Nike will be assisting AHSAA in the initial rollout of the sport.
“In addition to the Atlanta Falcons and the Blank Family Foundation monetary support, NIKE will provide girls flag apparel to assist the AHSAA with launching girls’ flag football throughout the state.”
Additionally, the release said that NFL FLAG will be working with the Falcons, AHSAA and Nike to “lead coaching clinics, develop competition guidelines and establish a framework for high schools interested in instituting girls’ flag football in Alabama.”
Last fall, with the help of Blank and the Falcons, Georgia became one of the only four states (Alaska, Nevada and Florida) to make girls’ high school flag football an official sanctioned sport.
Now, Alabama high school girls will have that option.