The inaugural season for girls’ flag football starts this week Clark County, Nevada. The Clark County School District earlier announced its decision to add the sport to close the gap in athletic opportunities available to girls and boys — a gap of over 4000 opportunities, so large that the district one of the 12 targeted by complaints filed by the National Women’s Law Center in 2010. To resolve the complaint, Clark County also added 400 new opportunities for girls by starting a freshman soccer program.
I haven’t seen information on the total number of opportunities that flag football has provided to girls, but it seems from this article that there are many schools in the district who are fielding teams — so many that the district’s league is divided into regions, and schools will compete for regional and district-wide championships after the regular season. Flag football was chosen in a process of meetings to assess the athletic interests of female high school students. And indeed, interest appears strong — at one school, 125 girls reportedly tried out for the teams 15 roster spots.
Title IX advocates are sometimes skeptical of schools’ decisions to add flag football, which sometimes appears to be a “quick fix” to Title IX problems, and as a substitution for sports that are more expensive and have more opportunities to compete. So I’m glad to see that Clark County’s decision to add flag football was motivated by expressed and apparent interest in the sport from among its students. And I am glad that it appears the teams will have lots of opportunities for competition within the district — to this end, it helps that Clark is the fifth largest school district in the nation, with almost 50 high schools. From what I can tell, Clark seems to be doing it right. I hope they have a great season.