Brock Huard has impassioned response to WIAA girls flag football vote

May 14, 2024, 11:07 AM | Updated: 11:17 am

WIAA girls flag football vote 2024...

A girl participates in a flag football event in Las Vegas in February 2024. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Dove)

(Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Dove)

Girls flag football will have to wait at least another year to become an official WIAA high school sport in Washington state.

California makes flag football a girls high school sport

The WIAA’s Representative Assembly voted 27-26 against an amendment to make girls flag football a sanctioned sport, the WIAA announced Monday. Amendments need at least 60% approval – 32 votes – to pass. The Representative Assembly is comprised of 53 school administrators from across the state, most of which are athletic directors.

Girls flag football will remain a club sport for the 2024-25 school year, but it won’t have an official WIAA state tournament or other benefits from being a sanctioned sport. It would have been the first new sanctioned sport in Washington state since girls bowling in 1999.

Girls flag football has experienced a meteoric rise across the country in recent years, with 11 states now offering it as a sanctioned sport. The movement comes as flag football gets set to make its Olympic debut at the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Some NFL teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, have poured a lot of funding into growing the sport. Since 2021, the Seahawks have donated more than $324,000 in grant funding to launch girls flag football teams across the state.

According to The Tacoma News Tribune, the main argument against sanctioning girls flag football was concern from Eastern Washington schools about which season to play in. Given the weather, it would be difficult to play in the winter on the eastern side of the state. That would push it to fall or spring, which are already busy seasons. There reportedly also were concerns about flag football taking girls away from other sports.

Huard on girls flag football vote: “This will backfire”

During Tuesday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports, former NFL quarterback Brock Huard gave an impassioned response to the vote.

“Leaders find solutions. Followers find excuses,” Huard said. “People in the NFL, people with the Seahawks, really wanted to see this happen because they know around the country what this has done to ignite girls like (Brock and Salk producer) Maura Dooley, who grew up with football being her favorite sport (but) thinking they could never play football. And then getting the outlet of playing flag football and watching it explode – I’ve seen it with my own eyes in the state of Colorado. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in the state of Arizona. I have seen these young women, young girls, just like Maura Dooley, who love football and want to play, and when given the opportunity to play flag football have taken advantage and run with it and loved it.”

Huard pushed back against some of the arguments against sanctioning the sport, including the cost and seasonal challenges.

“Costs? For a game that you can have multiple high schools play on one field?” Huard said. “You can have multiple schools all (using one field). It doesn’t take the whole 100 yards. They go 53 yards across. The Seahawks and the NFL have pledged a lot of grant money. Costs? Cleats, a football and flags? Come on now. … Don’t talk to me about the costs of flag football. Ludicrous.

“‘Well, it’s seasonal differences. In Eastern Washington, can’t play it in the winter. Too much snow. We’d have to play in the spring. And on the western side, they play in the winter.’ OK, fine. Then play in the winter. Guess what? You can crank it back up for a couple weeks of practice and go play the championships in the spring if you need to. You can figure out solutions.”

Huard also said that flag football potentially pulling girls from other sports isn’t a reason not to sanction it. Dooley agreed.

“That should be up to the girls what sport they want to play,” Dooley said. “It’s not up to you to decide, ‘Oh, well, we’d rather you play basketball.’ … That one outraged me the most. Like, ‘Well, then they wouldn’t play basketball and we need more numbers for basketball.’ I’ve never heard that excuse for a boys sport. Like, they get to choose which ones they want to play. Why can’t (girls) have the option?”

According to Scorebook Live, girls flag football could again be voted on next year as an amendment for the 2025-26 season. There also is a path where it could be approved by the WIAA Executive Board for a two-year trial that could ultimately lead to it being sanctioned if it meets certain criteria.

“I think there was fear,” Huard said. “Fear of the unknown. Fear of maybe losing some of these sports. Fear of watching this thing explode, and what’s gonna happen to some of the other sports? I think there was some fear in that. I think there was an inability to take a risk. You’re watching other states do this, and it’s going to happen. So for those 27 that voted it down, it’s going to happen. The NFL and their respective teams have put grants and put money into this, because they want to grow their sport, they want to grow women in their sport, they want to grow girls into their sports. It’s going to happen.

“When you make decisions out of fear, you lose,” he added. “When you make decisions out of excuse-making, you lose. In the end, you lose. This will come back and backfire.”

Listen to the full conversation from Tuesday’s Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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