Girls flag football cemented as high school sport by Colorado association vote

DENVER (KDVR) — After three years of seeing how girls flag football would be received in Colorado, the Colorado High School Activities Association voted Tuesday to sanction the game as an official high school sport.

The Broncos and Denver Broncos Foundation supported the pilot program, which initially featured 50 schools, 10 districts and nearly 1,500 girls who played in almost 850 games. During the three-year pilot program, the number of games grew by 310% and the number of participants grew by 161%, according to the foundation.

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“Thrilled doesn’t even begin to cover it,” CHSAA Commissioner Mike Krueger said in a Broncos release. “This isn’t just about the game. It’s about empowerment, teamwork and breaking barriers.”

Kreuger said that by embracing this sport, they’re fostering athleticism and providing leading opportunities for female athletes to participate in sports.

  • Lakewood’s Paige Johnson (10) pulls the flag off Alonso’s Sarah Peterika during a quarterfinal in the state high school flag football tournament in Boca Raton, Fla., Friday, May 7, 2010. An estimated 5,000 girls competed this spring at the varsity level in Florida, where the state has recognized a high school champion since 2003. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • FILE - Ottawa quarterback Madysen Carrera (21) is tackled by Midland defender Casey Thompson, left, during an NAIA flag football game in Ottawa, Kan., March 26, 2021. Flag football took a key step toward becoming an Olympic sport in 2028, a victory for the NFL and organizers in Los Angeles who will bring a distinctly American sport to the Summer Games as they return to the United States for the first time in 32 years. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

“We are cultivating leadership, confidence and equality — on and off the field — and we are igniting a new era of inclusivity and self-empowerment for every girl who participates. Get ready to witness the unstoppable force of these girls as they redefine the playing field and inspire generations to come,” Krueger said.

According to the Broncos, flag football is growing in popularity and will debut as an Olympic sport in the 2028 Los Angeles summer games.

Colorado is the 11th U.S. state to sanction girls flag football as a high school sport. It’s also the 14th fall activity and 21st girls activity recognized by CHSAA.

“This is a historic moment for Colorado and most importantly for girls in our state who have a new pathway into sports through flag football,” Carrie Walton Penner, Broncos owner and Denver Broncos Foundation board chair, said in a release. “In addition to providing an amazing platform for empowerment, inclusion and teamwork, girls flag creates a powerful sense of belonging and community for our next generation of leaders.”

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She thanked the association’s dedication, the community impact team, the student-athletes and coaches for their work during the three-year sanctioning process.

Following the official sanctioning of the sport, the Denver Broncos Foundation has pledged to continue to support the sport through seasonal programming, coaching clinics, athlete and coach recognition and youth health and wellness initiatives.

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