Midpeninsula Post

MVLA, PAUSD may offer girls flag football starting 2023-24 school year

Palo Alto High School in November 2022. (Mike Zhao)

Girls flag football may become an official high school sport in California, pending a vote by the Federated Council of the California Interscholastic Federation in February. If the proposition passes, the managing board of the CIF’s Central Coast Section, which oversees sports in 143 high schools, including Henry M. Gunn, Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto high schools, will then vote on whether to offer the sport in its region. 

The CIF and subsequent CCS approval will grant schools the option to offer the sport, but whether or not girls flag football will be available to PAUSD and MVLA students will be entirely up to the individual schools. 

“The CIF voted and [the proposition] is now the first reading item, so it’s going to come back to CIF at the February meeting for final approval,” CCS Commissioner and former Mountain View High principal Dave Grissom said. “If the federated council approves it, all sections can add [girls] flag football starting next school year.” 

The proposition for girls flag football came from the CIF Southern Section, which oversees high school athletics for southern California. According to Grissom, the Southern Section had already announced their intentions to test-run the sport back in April. After a successful trial, the section brought it forward to the CIF. 

Although only recently tested, the idea for the new sport has been circulating for several years. Grissom said he received multiple requests to establish girls flag football as a school sport while principal of Mountain View High. 

“I think there’s real interest in [the sport] in our section,” Grissom said. “I think [those who expressed interest] want to make it a viable sport for girls.”

Grissom said the main obstacle to the sport’s approval at the CCS level is what season to place it in. If CCS were to place the sport in either the fall or spring, MVLA, and PAUSD — along with other schools facing the same issue — may not have the capacity to offer flag football due to a lack of field space. Grissom said the winter season also seems an unlikely choice due to unfavorable weather conditions. He also said that placing the sport in the fall season would also prevent several interested CCS football coaches from participating since boys football is a fall sport.  

Even with these conflicts, however, Grissom says he believes CCS will offer girls flag football next year. Although it’s unlikely every CCS school will be able to offer the sport, CCS — both its management and members of its participating schools — remains optimistic. 

“There are some people that would have concerns no matter which season you would place it, but no one I have talked to has ever said anything negative in regard to girls flag football,” Grissom said.

According to Grissom, the approval is especially likely because of the opportunities the sport will provide for female athletes in CCS. Football has long been a boys-only sport in CCS. Grissom said offering the sport in CCS will finally give girls a chance to participate in some form of football, even if it will not look the exact same way as they are used to seeing their male counterparts play. The approval would also help CCS move towards its Title IX goals, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs, which include sports. 

“I think everyone sees that [girls flag football] is a positive thing,” Grissom said. “We continue to look for more and more opportunities on the female side due to Title IX. The people I’ve spoken to think there’s a real niche here that can fit the needs of some of our students.”

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