Robin Schultz understands the significance of football in this Alabama town. He began attending games long before Hoover became renowned (or notorious) for its football fanaticism, as documented in the MTV reality program “Two-a-Days,” which followed the nationally rated Hoover Buccaneers.

When his grandson Jackson, 9, was questioned about stepping into football pads and the Bucs’ pipeline, Schultz couldn’t reconcile his grandson’s aptitude and enthusiasm for the game with the extreme blows that may cause concussions or result in neurocognitive issues later in life.

He informed them, “Not happening.”

But, like many people, Schultz was not quite prepared to give up football completely. Rather, some parents and caregivers have allowed their kids to play flag football to get a taste of the game while avoiding the majority of the contact. Flag football is becoming the fastest-growing team game in the United States, thanks to booming leagues in cities and villages.

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The amount of 6-to-12-year-olds practicing flag football has grown by 38% in the last three years, reaching more than 1.5 million. As per a survey by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which has studied child sports statistics for 40 years, it is over 100,000 more than those who presently play contact football.

Some well-known figures have backed the change. Drew Brees, the most effective passer in NFL history and a Super Bowl champion, did not put on pads for the first game till high school, and he thanks flag football for building the basis for the abilities that will almost likely place him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brees currently instructs his teenage boys’ teams in Football ‘N’ America, a flag football league he is a co-founder of, with the aim of keeping the sport he loves alive.

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The National Football League is concerned about this threat. The league has been fostering flag football as a manner to arise a declining trend of participation in the tackle model of the sport and to attract and keep young athletes — and their families — from giving up football completely after efforts to respond to growing public worries about injury issues, tend to range from training “safe tackling” to promoting hybrid 7-on-7 youth games.

The National Football League has announced that it will provide annual funding to 400 Boys & Girls Clubs for flag football programs, with the goal of reaching 100,000 participants aged 6 to 18. It has used its media clout to try to raise the popularity of flag football.

Fewer people believe flag football will ever completely replace tackle football at the school and college level, but it has gained traction in several of the sport’s classic strengths. Newer leagues have snatched players from long-established tackle programs in Chicago, while Hoover’s young flag football league has nearly quadrupled in number to 91 teams in the last five years.

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Lewis explains that the flag in the form of the game, which we all practice on Thanksgiving as a way to continue the old culture. It’s something we do in our backyard.