SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Beginning this fall, the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana’s football leagues will exclusively play flag football.
YMCA leaders say they made the decision — which comes amid increased scrutiny on the health effects of tackle football programs — in order to protect the safety of children.
“We have been carefully following this issue for a number of years educating ourselves as much as possible,” says Gary Lash, CEO of YMCA of Northwest Louisiana. “We know how important this topic has become and the evidence is simply too strong now to ignore."
The Y offers football leagues for kids aged 4 years old and up. Sports Director Jonathan Ford says until now, kindergartners and first graders played flag football while second through sixth grade students played in tackle leagues.
The organization will now have flag football teams for students all the way up to eighth grade, according to Ford.
“It is a priority for us at the Y to focus on the overall wellness of the individuals we serve, and we have a great responsibility toward the young athletes who enjoy our sports programs. This is the right direction for our organization," says Ford.
The sign up period for this year’s leagues ends on August 11 and games run from September to November.