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FHSAA recognizes flag football

Next up for the sport is sanctioning, which will allow a state tournament to be held.

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 16, 2001


TAMPA -- The Florida High School Activities Association's board of directors Friday unanimously approved recognition for girls flag football as an interscholastic sport, an important step toward eventual state sanctioning of the emerging sport.

Nearly half of the 41 schools requesting recognition were from Pinellas County, where all 16 public schools have fielded teams for the past four years. Pinellas athletic director Bob Hosack said the sport has been well-received across the county.

"Participation has been very good with a lot of enthusiasm," said Hosack, who said the county bought 25 uniforms for each school. "We saw that the schools all had a powder puff game during Homecoming, and the numbers were there for that. So we figured if we started a program, it would be a way to find something the girls would enjoy playing."

The sport originally was added as a gender-equity measure to help offset the large number of boys who participate in football. It has fit well in the spring season. Three weeks ago, Clearwater defeated Boca Ciega 21-14 in double-overtime to win the county championship.

The FHSAA recognition means schools must abide by the association's regulations for eligibility and conduct.

The next step -- official sanctioning -- would allow for a state tournament. Most of the other flag football teams are in the Palm Beach area with a few schools in Tallahassee and Orlando.

The board also approved boys volleyball as a recognized sport, but none of the 35 schools that requested approval are from the bay area. In other news from Friday's meeting:

Harsher penalties were approved for coaches ejected from games due to unsportsmanlike conduct. Before the amendment, coaches were subject to a $100 fine and one-game suspension.

But that now has been extended to one week and a minimum of two games except in football, which will be one game. Coaches who commit "gross" unsportsmanlike conduct could face a suspension of up to six weeks.

Jesuit athletic director Sonny Hester was chosen as president of the FHSAA's board of directors, becoming the first AD and the first representative from a private school selected to the post.

The board began discussion of a proposal to shorten the regular season in all sports from 28 to 24 games, citing the demands the current length puts on student-athletes, especially those who participate in multiple sports.

The proposal could be voted on in the next school year but would take effect no earlier than the 2003-04 school year.

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