Southern Section approves addition of girls’ flag football

Minutes before Thursday’s CIF Southern Section Council meeting in Long Beach, President-elect Paula Rodas crossed her fingers and smiled.

Since last November, Rodas, a former principal of Lawndale High, has been working with representatives from the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers on a proposal to make girls’ flag football a recognized sport by the CIF Southern Section. The night before the Southern Division would vote to accept the proposal, Rodas was so nervous she could hardly sleep, she said.

“I grew up in the Title IX wave, which was a thing, but there were still a lot of things — we, kids my age, were told, ‘You can’t do this because you’re a girl,'” he said Rodas. “Doors were closed to us”

Representatives from the southern section voted to accept the proposal, Rodas smiling at the council podium and clapping across the room. The section’s approval means the proposal will be placed on the state agenda to be read at a meeting on October 7th.

“That’s history in the making, that’s access, that’s hope,” said Johnathan Franklin, the Rams’ director of social justice and football development, who was in attendance and worked with Rodas on the proposal.

After being read out at that meeting, Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod told The Times it will be voted on at a subsequent State Council meeting in February. If approved then, Wigod said, the sport will be officially implemented next fall.

The motion passed Thursday by a vote of 61 to 26, with two members abstaining.

According to the National Federation of State High School Assns. According to surveys, the number of girls participating in high school flag football nationwide has increased from 11,209 in 2018-19 to 15,716 in 2021-22. In addition, 15 colleges across the country offer flag football for girls as a sport.

“A lot of schools have questioned this because it’s something new,” Wigod said, “but I think there’s a lot of support for it.”

Originally, Rodas said, they had brought the proposal to the South Division as a spring sport, largely because of potential field availability. After discussions with other sections across the state, they ratified the proposal as a fall sport, citing the higher number of sports offered in the spring for girls, which could limit flag football availability.

This became a hot topic at the council meeting, where a Miramonte League representative proposed an amendment to the proposal, suggesting the sport be held in the spring instead.

Ultimately, an amendment to propose flag football as a spring sport was rejected in part because of the girls’ lacrosse season at the time.

The basic equipment cost to start a program would be about $2,000, Rodas said. Franklin said the Rams, co-sponsors of the Los Angeles League of Champions flag football league, will look at ways to help teams interested in funding if the proposal is passed state-level.

“I’m pretty hopeful,” Rodas said. Southern Section approves addition of girls’ flag football

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