Girls flag football might soon become a recognized, regulated high school sport in the state of Washington.

At the NFL Draft in late April, a dozen female high schoolers were onstage to greet Christian Haynes, the Seahawks' explosive third-round pick. These girls aren't just anybody. They play flag football at Emerald Ridge High in Puyallup.

The Seahawks' front office is actively lobbying on behalf of the young women in Washington who play this game competitively. Since 2021, the Hawks have steered upward of $300,000 to fledgling flag football programs. A portion of the grant money went to Wenatchee High School, as revealed in this press release.

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This is a chance to foment "equitable opportunities for youth in athletics," according to a statement on the Hawks' website.

Moreover, it's a chance to shield young athletes from irreparable injury. Tackle football is a treasured American pastime. It's also punishingly physical and deleterious to the human body; by one estimate, 90 percent of NFL retirees endure chronic pain, often from musculoskeletal injuries sustained long ago.

Meanwhile the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is deliberating on a proposal to legitimize flag football at the high school level. As soon as the next academic year, the game might be WIAA-certified. The WIAA is set to vote this month.

For years the game has loomed peripherally in the public consciousness. Some listeners will remember the NBC show Friday Night Lights, a beautifully written teen drama about the fictional Dillon Panthers. One of the more endearing subplots involved girls flag football.

But female participation in flag football has exploded of late. NFL FLAG reports a 63% increase since 2019.

The Emerald High squad might be an emerging dynasty; in February they won the inaugural Western Washington Championship.

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