The San Francisco 49ers may compete with the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams for fan support, but the three teams recently joined forces to support the introduction of girls flag football as a state-sponsored high school sport.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) met Friday and unanimously passed the motion to make girls flag football a varsity sport across the state, a move that was supported by all three of California’s NFL teams.
The 49ers Foundation has hosted flag football clinics around the Bay Area in recent years, and left tackle Trent Williams was featured in an Instagram video earlier in the week encouraging the CIF to pass the vote.
Niners President Al Guido said, “We are thrilled with the results of the CIF vote, sanctioning girls flag football as a varsity sport in CA. This will further the opportunities for girls, both on and off the field. We look forward to supporting those interested in flag through the sponsorship of the CIF San Francisco Section this year, skills camp slated for the summer, and expanding the THINK GOLD conference to welcome more girls interested in sports leadership.”
The CIF San Francisco Section and the Academic Athletic Association (AAA)—which are essentially the same governing body—have been playing flag football since 2013. Schools were permitted to play a season in May 2021, when the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) had yet to permit city public schools to play tackle football.
AAA flag football had been supported by the 49ers before the motion was passed. The 2023 AAA season is set to begin on March 1, with 10 teams registered to play. Conversely, just seven San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) schools fielded tackle football teams in the fall.
While the 49ers have been involved with San Francisco schools, the Rams and Chargers combined to sponsor the Los Angeles Girls Flag Football League of Champions.
Some of the specifics for statewide rules are still being hammered out. Teams play seven-on-seven, with four 12-minute quarters. As of now, flag football will be a fall sport, meaning schools will need to work with tackle football teams to figure out field availability. Schools will still have the option to play in the spring, as the AAA currently does, but if enough schools participate for the state to introduce regional and state championships, teams that play in the spring would not be eligible.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]