By: Meghan Gallagher, Contributing Writer (‘21)
In America, there are one million fewer female high school student-athletes than male high school athletes (McCarrston, CBSsports). The biggest culprit why-American football. Football is one of the most popular, played, and watched professional sport in America. Yet, it is confined to one gender. In the vast majority of high schools, there is no girls’ football team, and in turn, there is less opportunity for young girls to play a team sport, demonstrate their athletic ability, and earn athletic scholarships.
To create more athletic opportunities for girls, Nike and the NFL are working to build girls’ flag football programs in high schools across America. So far, there are girls leagues in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Alaska, and New York. As of recently, New Jersey will be added to that list. Nike, the Jets, and the New Jersey Super Football Conference have teamed up to sponsor and build a 7 v 7 girls flag football. According to the Bergen Record, so far, the eight teams in the league include East Orange Campus, Irvington High School, Malcolm X Shabazz High School, Morristown High School, Passaic County Technical Institute, William L. Dickinson High School, Ramapo High School, and our very own Indian Hills High School. All the teams will receive a set amount of funding for uniforms, equipment, and additional resources to create a program. Additionally, there will be a $1,000 scholarship awarded to select players in the league.
The league was announced on February 6th, and Indian Hills student Megan Sears, National Girls in Sports winner, received the uniform for Indian Hills in the #EmpowerHer video sent out by Nike and the Jets. The plan for the league is to have a four-week season with practice and games, then playoffs afterward. As of now, there are no solidified logistical plans for the Indian Hills flag football team, since a lot of girls interested in flag football at Indian Hills play spring sports. Athletic Director Mr. Baratta notes that “We’re going to allow that [sports] cross over because it’s going to be cross over with a lot of our showed interest. I’m working with those other sports to try to avoid that conflict so that anybody who wants to play can”. The flag football pilot season is going to be treated more like a club sport to allow for more participation.
At Indian Hills, girls have already demonstrated an appetite for football with PowerPuff. Every year, there are at least two Powderpuff teams from each grade level that participate. Almost anyone involved in Powerpuff day can comment on how fun it is, including athletic director Mr. Burrata. He enjoys the day “because it’s just a bunch of kids really enjoying themselves playing something they don’t normally get to.” Hopefully, with the new 7 v. 7 flag football league, Lady Braves will soon have the opportunity to have fun playing football, rather than someday.
Contact Mr. Baratta for more information on how to join the IHHS Flag Football team.