Flag football popularity is skyrocketing

Learn how to get your body in shape to avoid injuries.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - 206-390-3226, sghanson@uw.edu

With Sunday’s Super Bowl, football is top of mind for sports fans everywhere. A lower-key variation of the game is gaining in popularity, too:  Flag football is set to become an Olympic sport at the 2028 Los Angeles Games, and is now played by more than 2 million U.S. children.  

Dr. Mia Hagen, a UW Medicine orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine, says an advantage of the sport is that it’s easy to start playing. 

“It's a low-equipment sport. You don't need a lot to play. You need a team, a field, a ball, something as a flag. That's about it,” she said. “With the non-contact nature, you don't need to be the biggest kid on the field to be successful. Kids go through development at different times of their lives, and so it may be a more accessible to a younger crowd in that way.” 

The National Football League’s football operations department says girls and women are fueling the game’s fast growth. More than 15,000 girls played high school flag football in 2022 — a 40% increase from 2018 participation.  

Hagen says a bit of conditioning is a smart first step to avoid injury among would-be players. 

“As with any cutting, pivoting sport, I think preseason conditioning is important. So, making sure that you've got the cardio, the strength and the flexibility for the sport.”   

Download broadcast-ready soundbites with Hagen on preventing injury while playing flag football.

UW Medicine