SPORTS: A girls flag football team may be implemented to accommodate for Title IX

If approved in February, girls flag football could be added to the roster of sports available at Santa Clara High School.

Originally proposed by the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, flag football is in the final stage of the new sport approval process. If the final vote in February passes, girls flag football will become a recognized sport in California.

Central Coast Section Commissioner David Grissom has been contributing to the approval process for a while and has been recruiting athletes to participate while doing so.

“We’re always looking for new athletes,” Grissom said.

While there are more female-exclusive than male-exclusive sports offered at SCHS, there is still a disparity in the number of female to male athletes, according to SCHS Principal Gregory Shelby. The addition of girls flag football would act as a counterpart to the predominantly male football team, where a lot of the imbalance comes from.

“High schools around the area have a higher number of male athletes than female athletes, and this would help address that,” Shelby said.

If added, flag football would become the ninth female-exclusive sport offered at Santa Clara.

Even if flag football becomes recognized as a sport in California, it may take a while for the Silicon Valley Athletic League and SCHS to establish teams. Grissom used beach volleyball as an example, a sport that has not been implemented at SCHS but has been sanctioned by the state.

“Not every school has a beach volleyball team,” Grissom said. “Some leagues might take longer to adopt it than others.”

While the proposal categorized flag football as a fall sport, different leagues may have flag football in other seasons.

“Girls water polo is a fall sport here, while Southern California has it as a winter sport,” Grissom said.

Shelby is intrigued by the prospect of different seasons and would rather girls flag football occur in the spring for the sake of scheduling conflicts with other sports.

“From our perspective, we’d actually prefer it becoming a spring sport,” Shelby said. “We don’t want it to compete for space and time with field hockey.”

Different seasons for the same sport can bring up an array of difficulties since State Championships can only happen during one season. If a team does not participate in that season, they are not eligible to play.

“It does make State Championships difficult,” Grissom said.

“You eventually could become a state champion if you rise high enough,” Shelby said. “For that to happen, you have to be in the same season.”

Even if the California vote passes, it could still take some time for SCHS to get its own flag football team.

“We would have to analyze whether we could field the team,” Shelby said. “We must make sure that we have the facilities to manage it.”

Typically when SCHS adds a sport, the team joins an existing league. However, flag football could be different.

“We might be one of the founding members of a brand new league,” Shelby said.

Starting with a clean slate can offer schools out-of-the-gate success that might not be possible if the league was established prior to the team’s debut.

While a team is not definite, Shelby is excited about a potential flag football team.

“Anything we can do to bring out more athletes, particularly athletes that are not currently in a sport, is a wonderful thing,” Shelby said. “If this is the sport that will draw more athletes or more folks into athletics, it’s definitely worth it.”