There was a rumor spread on Thursday via Bill Simmons' Twitter account that FOX Sports was considering televising high school football with professional quality production if the ongoing NFL labor dispute stretches into the regular season. Well, the NFL hasn't waited until the fall to get in on prep football, with one team making a spring foray to promote a different kind of scholastic gridiron action.
According to the Miami Herald, the NFL's Miami Dolphins hosted a girls flag football festival at their training facility in Davie, Florida last week, featuring a whopping 11 games between some of South Florida's best high school flag football programs, all while building buzz and getting a little extra attention for the sport. Getting help from an NFL franchise is a significant step in Florida, which is still the only state to officially recognize flag football as a fully sanctioned sport.
"Football is no longer a man's sport," Dolphins Director of Youth and Community Programs Twan Russel told the Herald. "Young women across South Florida are competing on the gridiron, scoring touchdowns and learning life skills that only just thirteen years ago was exclusive only to boys. The Dolphins are proud to continue to host these games for youth development."
The Herald cited a defensive matchup between highly-ranked Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) High and Cooper City (Fla.) High as the jamboree's highlight, with Ft. Lauderdale eventually pulling out a hotly contested 7-0 victory. Lest there be any question that female football stars can also be inspired by NFL mystique, the quarterback of Ft. Lauderdale's victorious effort made it clear that she and her teammates' performance against Cooper was elevated by competing at an NFL facility.
"The Dolphins are my favorite team so it hyped me up," Ft. Lauderdale quarterback Karnisha Coleman, pictured above, told the Herald. "It was great to be able to play where they train.
"It was a tough game, because we didn't play at our level to begin with, but we pulled out the victory and stayed undefeated."
Whether or not Coleman and her teammates can remain undefeated will be a matter of debate, but one thing is certain: Even without professional games to promote, some NFL organizations will find ways to broaden their wide appeal, perhaps with the help of newly energized scholastic partners.