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Recreation Commission Considers Flag Football Proposal

Two town residents are proposing a recreational program aimed at kids aged 7 to 14 who aren't playing tackle football.

The Recreation Commission heard a proposal Monday night from two town residents for a coed fall flag football league for kids aged 7 to 14.

Pawcatuck resident Bob Dimock and Stonington resident Jessica Linicus are proposing the league as a non-contact alternative for kids who don't want to play tackle football and as a way to promote general health in the video-game age. 

"Our kids played (youth tackle football). We had a great experience. But everyone knows about the concussion issues involved in football," said Dimock, who helped set up the adult flag league run by the Westerly-Pawcatuck YMCA. "And it's not just tackling. It's any time you take a hit, whether you're falling down, you're hit on the side, the linemen ... it's a scope of a whole different range of issues. We're looking for a safe alternative, and there's nothing in the surrounding communities."

Dimock also said the flag league would not be segmented into weight classes, only age groups. High school kids would be recruited to referee.

"What this does is it develop skills not necessarily developed in football in a safer way. It's 5-on-5, you're developing overall health, your coordination ... just overall conditioning," Dimock said. "I think the big issue is the health of the kids, having something else to go to. Most kids go home and get on the Wii or the X-Box. This is a sport where you're using your agility."

Another factor Dimock cited was the fun factor.

"In (tackle) football, it's hard to get kids in skill positions," he said. "In flag football, you can get the ball in kids' hands, and they can really have fun."

In response to a question from commission member Paulla Solar about whether the league would be coed, Linicus said, "I think we would definitely allow girls to play."

"What we're proposing is a program through the town that we could grow," Dimock said. "What we're hoping to do is reach out to other towns and grow it in a way that other towns can start their programs."

"I think it's a great idea," commission member Joe Ciriello, who noted that the National Football League honored a female as the best flag football player in the nation at the Super Bowl in February. "It teaches all the athletic skills that would be applicable to soccer, lacrosse, basketball, without the contact/head injury issue. It fits all the criteria we would like for programs for our rec department to be affiliated with."

The NFL is one of the largest sanctioning bodies for flag football. In their version, the field is 30 yards by 70 yards, with two 10-yard endzones. There are several no-run zones within the field of play to encourage a mix of plays.

Linicus said she and Dimock already have a group of kids interested in playing and they plan to promote the league through an intramural flag program are running in the elementary schools in the spring and through fliers in May and June. 

Recreation Commission Chairman C. Michael Crowley asked Dimock and Linicus for a month to assess field availability, and the issue was tabled till next month's commission meeting.

Would you like to see a flag football option in town? Tell us in the comments.

Michelle Smith March 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Great!!! As article mentions, fields?? Seems we have a shortage most seasons.
parent March 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Good luck! As for finding fields, keep in mind as per the superintendent, high school fields are out for any sport in our community, only high school sports can play on those fields.
Howard March 26, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Great idea.......great springtime event. Though keep in mind......concussions can also happen in flag games to for they dont wear head protection
FJS March 26, 2013 at 04:53 PM
tackle football should probably not happen for kids whose brains are still developing-but flag football certainly reduces the injury number and severity. Fact is-tackle football is inappropriate for youngsters especially when coached by well-meaning volunteers who think they are NFL coaches and give no consideration to the injury factor.
Howard March 26, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Hmmmmm......now that sounds like an attack FJS. Facts?
Jason March 26, 2013 at 05:26 PM
FJS........It appears that you "Do" have an issue with youth tackle football...... personally. This article is about some folks starting up a youth flag program that perhaps will draw an interest for kids to play and possibly continue playing football at both the youth & high school level. Don't use it to undermine volunteers who coach youth football. You state "tackle football should PROBABLY not happen for kids"......why probably...are you not sure or are you simply saying it to set up your attack. Also....."certainly reduces" the injury number? Seriously.....you know that? The bottom line is........this is about the kids playing a sport. Dont destroy it for them before the program even begins. C'mon......use your brain & think before you make silly statements & negative comments about volunteers. No pun intended!
Ed March 26, 2013 at 05:41 PM
This article states at the top that this program is for kids that are "not playing tackle football" Shouldn't this program be offered so ALL kids can play? Even for the kids that play tackle football in the fall. This program should not interfare with other leagues of same interest. Stonington Youth Football already has a successful flag program in the fall for both boys and girls ages 5,6,&7.This program should not be an alternative to other programs. It should be a "Fun Factor" that Mr Dicmock states.
MonaSaurusRex March 26, 2013 at 08:29 PM
GOOD! The more options for kids the better in my humble opinion! Let whoever wants to participate, participate! Theres no such thing as too many things for kids to do!! Good job Ledyard!
Corey Fyke (Editor) March 26, 2013 at 08:30 PM
As a point of clarification, nobody would be excluded from playing. The assumption though, since the seasons are the same, that kids who played tackle wouldn't also play flag just because they would be already occupied in football activities. Also, according to the organizers, the program is meant to be supplemental to Stonington Youth Football in the sense that kids who wouldn't normally be allowed to or want to play full-pads football as youngsters could still gain skills/conditioning and then perhaps join tackle in high school. Both of the organizers present at the meeting Monday had children who have played tackle.
FJS March 26, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Indeed I was negatively commenting on the NFL style coaching and the significant dangers in tackle football for younger children, and I am including a citation here which is one of many about the same topic, so I am confident that my position is stronger than the opposite. Note also, that this program will lose its "fun" element if the kids who presently play tackle use it as warmup practice which is being suggested above, but clearly (as stated by Mr. Fyke) is not the intention. Those of you who want your kids to bang heads and perhaps damage themselves for life, have at it, but there should be a better alternative available...http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/11/pop_warner_football_kids_should_not_be_allowed_to_put_on_helmets_and_knock.html
George Burnside March 26, 2013 at 09:13 PM
I hope true research is done on head injuries within flag football leagues prior to being the bases for this "alternative" sport. I also hope that before the town offers any monies/usage of town resources they are up to date on what happens when two players go for the ball while it is in the air at full speed with out approved head gear. This sounds like people with a knee jerk reaction to issues with Stonington Youth Football.
KC March 26, 2013 at 10:14 PM
This should not be about the Flag Football vs Stonington Youth Football. It is about opportunities for our kids. If your kids want to play tackle football and you as a parent agree, great. If your kids want to play flag football and as a parent you agree, great. It is another wonderful opportunity for our children to be active, learn great skills, and good sportsmanship!
Ed March 27, 2013 at 12:34 AM
FJS (Bob)...what you should say is that concussion injuries are not just a youth tackle football problem, but a global sport problem. The article below is about a youth having a serious brain injury from FLAG FOOTBALL. Experts dont point fingers, they develope ways to prevent possible injuries! Back to the books! http://www.wturley.com/blog/2012/06/hawkins-flag-football-player-dies-of-on-field-brain-injuries.shtml
Bob Dimock Jr March 27, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Bob Dimock For the record this is Bob Dimock, not the "Bob" that "Ed" thinks is FSJ.. KC I agree 100% with your above post regarding the decisions of parents and kids sports. For all parents/ coaches interested in learning more about head trauma & concussion awareness we are currently in the process of setting up a second annual FREE clinic later this year, the Patch will be one of our communication outlets. Last year (2012) we were fortunate enough to have one of the few certified head trauma experts in the country speak at a Free clinic hosted by the Stonington Rec, at the SHS. The results for the attendees were both eye opening and very informative. For the record I believe all sports, when proper coaching is applied, teach the fundamentals of teamwork, good character, and overall health and wellness. The Flag Football League is another great avenue for our youth to learn these qualities.
Jay S March 27, 2013 at 01:20 PM
I would rather have my son playing football with the proper protective helmets then no protection at all. Would youth rather bang head with no helmet? My son played tackle last year and the coaches were great with showing proper tackling tecniques with not using there heads. I believe the options in the fall to not playing football, would be soccer or fall baseball. Not everyone is cut out to play football and thats ok. If you plan on playing a sport in High School, wouldn't you want to be playing that sport before you get there. If football is to dangerous at 12 or 13 isn't still dangerous at 14-16? It sound like these parents kids were not great at the sport, but don't want to be soccer moms.

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