Could you imagine going to a Friday night football game in East Texas, and all of the players are wearing flags instead of pads and helmets?  More kids than ever are playing flag football these days, and no sport is rising in popularity faster.  

With all of the worries about concussions and knee injuries, it's no wonder that a minimal contact sport like flag football is rising in popularity so quickly.

The Today Show said flag football is one of the nation’s fastest-growing youth sports with the number of players aged 6 to 12 increasing by 44% over the last 5 years.

My daughter has been playing on a co-ed team for a year or so, and she had her first interception return for a touchdown last month.  She was so determined to get to the end zone she didn't notice that crazy fan mom side-shuffling along half the sideline, fist-pumping and cheering her on.  It's an exciting sport for all of us.

Flag football is an easy sport to get involved in because there is almost no equipment to buy other than a mouthpiece and some good cleats.  The league usually provides the uniform and the flags, and the coaches have the footballs, although my daughter did take her own ball to a few practices.  The cost and the risk of injury associated with flag football are both low, and that makes a lot of parents happy.

The NY Times ran a story last year that predicted The Future of Football Has Flags.  In the article, the Times said more kids are playing flag football now than the tackle version of the sport.  And the NFL has taken note and pledged to give annual grants to four hundred Boys & Girls Clubs for flag football programs to reach 100,000 players ages 6 to 18.

With flag football, the play is over once the ball carrier's flag is pulled off the belt and the referee blows the whistle.  Every once in awhile two players accidentally crash into each other and fall down, but there is no tackling in flag football, and that brings a lower risk for broken bones, twisted ankles, and concussions.

Will flag football ever replace the tackle version?  It's doubtful because we are in Texas after all and football is king.  But for kids who are looking to learn the game and get a taste of what it's like to be a Longhorn, Lobo, or Cowboy, flag football seems to be the perfect option.