All-Inclusivity is what makes NFL Flag great.
NFL Flag football established a great opportunity for league organizers to provide a great youth flag football experience through the use of NFL team branded jerseys. Every active youth athlete aspires to be the Tom Brady, Julio Jones or Larry Fitzgerald when they are running around the football field with their friends, and wearing those pro logos is part of the dream. Its great to be a kid again! This was a brilliant move by NFL to sponsor (or at least license) these rights to indoctrinate young families to the NFL brand. When ONE Sports Nation launched its flagship program (Grid Iron Flag Football) nearly a decade ago, we were proud to be an affiliate with NFL Flag and have grown to be the largest NFL Flag Football program in Phoenix, Arizona…. and we’ve expanded our programs across the nation from Florida to Hawaii.
Today, we are still proud of the game day we provide, maintaining our focus to develop players and keep them excited about playing sports. And we are still proud to be an NFL Flag affiliate, but the flag football culture in Phoenix has changed, and its hurting youth sports all over again, and its hurting NFL Flag locally.
Few kids were playing flag football a decade ago, we’ve watched the participation grow over the years and now its joined the ranks of basketball and soccer in terms of competitiveness. A whole “Club Sport” culture has evolved around NFL Flag. Ten years ago there were only a couple of annual tournaments, whereas today, there are multiple tournament offerings every weekend. Winning and domination has taken root in local league play as practice grounds for tournament teams and its ruining the youth sports experience for all kids. At ONE Sports Nation, we discourage club flag football teams and despite many requests, we will not sponsor club or tournament teams. Unfortunately, local NFL Flag representatives are promoting this youth sports culture of tournaments and winning…. and its killing the NFL Flag brand with young families. Where once they were indoctrinating young players and families to the NFL brand, now they are segregating the brand as a place for over zealous coaches, vicarious parents and win-at-all-cost competition. NFL Flag is building a tournament reputation in Phoenix and losing the good will it built with families as an all-inclusive, league play brand. And once again, many players are left behind. Perhaps its inevitable that great things so pure and good for kids be spoiled by grown up greed for dominance.
Fortunately, the demise of youth NFL Flag Football in Phoenix is not yet showing symptoms in some other parts of the country where we operate. Let’s hope NFL Flag can retain its all-inclusive youth sports branding in those areas for years to come.
As for ONE Sports Nation, we will continue promoting an all-inclusive, development focused, league play culture where kids can just play, have fun and enjoy football….while still wearing an NFL team logo.
And in another corner of the youth sports world, the JrNBA is taking root, offering pro branded jerseys to youth sports basketball leagues. And although club basketball already exists, what will become of the JrNBA brand?