A co-ed game of flag football being played at University of Texas.
|Team members||2 teams of 4-11|
|Type||Outdoor, indoor, team sport, ball game|
|Country or region||Worldwide|
Flag football is a version of American football where the basic rules of the game are similar to those of the mainstream game (often called "tackle football" for contrast), but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier ("deflagging") to end a down, and contact is not permitted between players which will result in a penalty for the team that initiates it.
Chiefly because there is no dominant sanctioning organization for the sport, the game has mutated into many variations: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4-players on each side; coed or single-gender; without kicking and punting and with point-after conversions (including some with 1, 2, and 3 point tries) or without; and field sizes that vary from full Canadian Football League (CFL) size, National Football League (NFL) size (120 yards long by 53 yards wide), to fields a third that size.
An important distinction is whether linemen are allowed to catch passes ("Eligible Linemen") or, as in the NFL / CFL, are not allowed to do so ("Ineligible Linemen"). Flag (and touch) football may also be divided into "contact" or "non-contact", depending on whether or not blocking is allowed; if allowed, blocking is usually restricted to the chest.
The ability or inability for the quarterback to advance the ball past the line of scrimmage (LOS) by running is another rule subject to variation by league.
The sport has a strong amateur following and several national and international competitions each year sponsored by various associations.
The International Woman's Flag Football Association, otherwise known as the IWFFA, hosts 8 on 8 flag football tournaments and flag football trainings across the world with participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Scotland and several other nations. The organization is the largest organization for women and girls in the sport of flag football. The most active tournament is held each February in Key West, Florida, called the Kelly McGillis Classic where over 90 women and girls teams participate in 8 on 8, semi - blocking contact flag football. There are no restrictions to for girls and women to play.
Flag football competition in the United Kingdom is organized by the BAFA National Leagues. At a senior level as of 2011, it is played by fifteen teams divided into two regional conferences, North (Scotland), and South (England & Wales) with the top teams qualifying for playoffs at the end of the season. The league also organizes teams competing at youth and cadet levels. Flag matches in the UK are played with five players on each side with no contact, and are officiated according to the IFAF flag football rules with a few minor variations.
In Germany, both 5 vs 5 and 9 vs 9 are played. While the former is played with no contact in a wide range of leagues and ages, the latter is played as per the above-mentioned "contact" rules, with blocking to the chest being allowed. Most teams playing 9 vs 9 Flag Football are organized into two conferences within the DFFL (Deutsche Flag Football Liga) and compete for the DFFL Bowl.
In Korea, the biggest tournament is the National Flag Football Tournament held by the Korean Flag Football Federation (KFFF). It attracts up to 20 teams, from middle school students to adults.
In Indonesia, there is the Indonesian Flag Football Association, or IFFA. IFFA was established on February 14, 2009 as a continuation of its predecessor, the Indonesian Flag Football League, that had been defunct since 2001.
In Israel, Flag Football is organized and governed by American Football in Israel (AFI). Over fifty teams play in leagues for adult men and women, as well as youth. The men's league plays 6 vs 6, with contact. Men's teams compete for the Holyland Bowl Championship. Women and youth leagues play 5 vs 5, non-contact, and both the Men's and Women's Israel National Teams compete in international 5 vs. 5 tournaments.
The specific rules of flag football vary widely by league, though all share in common their replication of the rules of traditional US-American football with tackling replaced by flag-pulling. Traditional American football rules are often omitted, changed or simplified to reflect the more recreational nature of the game, desire to avoid physical contact and injury, and the generally smaller number of participating players per side.