Pulling The Flag

Community Opinions: Hardest thing about flag football?

What would you say is the hardest thing about flag football?

Last week, I asked you to think about what you felt were the hardest things in our sport. I’ve collated and anonymised your responses, but here’s what you said:


Inconsistent refereeing can cost games. Just ask the Packers. (Image courtesy of Awesome Luvvie)

“Relying on other teams to officiate”

“Inconsistent refereeing”

“Players having a clear understanding of the rules when refereeing other teams’ games. There is always such a mixed view on how a decision should be made when something comes up in a game. Rarely a situation where everyone says “yeah that’s the rule”. If BAFA ran a course strictly for flag rules that maybe they could integrate with coaching badges it might help.”

“Understanding the small nuances of the rules! Especially in regard to penalties/infringements”

“The hardest thing in flag football is getting a straight down the line reffereed game, refereeing is left down to certain members of teams to carry out against their own division rivals, which in turn causes questionable decisions and with teams having a vested interest in the outcome of games they can do their upmost to stop certain teams from scoring and cause teams to lose points. I personally think it’s a joke how BAFA will not provide at least one single impartial refferee for game days, surely with how many people from each division pay a registration fee of nearly £30 that could be funded. I’m sure the vast majority of teams throughout the league would even be open to the idea of paying an increased registration fee to obtain legitimate impartial referees for game days and that says it all.”

Untrained referees can be a problem. (Image courtesy of Memesuper.com)

This was by far the biggest complaint. Being a self-refereed sport, inconsistency (especially with newer teams reffing experienced teams), and bias (a team that needs you to lose to make the playoffs reffing your game, for example), are serious concerns. I think further conversation regarding where our fees go and BAFA officials are absolutely necessary for the future of the sport, but then so perhaps are the shortage of refs overall. Two years ago, teams had to send at least one representative to BAFA sanctioned training so that they could ref. This was a noble idea except that some teams chose not to attend the compulsory sessions (and somehow got away with it), and the sessions seemed to have no real clue how many people teams liked to ref with. The differences in roles between a three man crew and a five man crew took up a fair chunk of time, for example. Perhaps at the very least, every team’s head ref should attend these sessions annually. Certainly something to discuss! Post your comments on this and let’s get the conversation started.


“Encouraging others to pay subs, finding a price structure that works for everyone.”

“Travelling and costs that come with that.”

Some teams find financing flagball easier than others. (Image courtesy of Giphy)

“The astronomical cost of decent training facilities. A 3G pitch is priced by the hour to be used by 22 people making it just about affordable, but if your a flag team with 5,6,7 regulars and try to attract new members to a virtually unknown sport then you will struggle to find anything within your affordable price range, particularly if you want to train 2-3 hours.”

“We found the initial setup costs of balls, flags, cones, markers etc. tough to generate. This COULD be done on a really small budget but to enable us to start a team, have the right image and run decent sessions from the off, we wanted to get the majority early on… luckily we’re tenacious and managed to gather great support from local businesses and the community as a whole to run a really successful fundraising event. If any new teams wanted to try something similar we’d recommend it and could offer some advice if needed!”

I’ll add to that that venue availability and quality are also issues related to cost. Some teams have university ties and can use 3G turf cheaply, whilst others make do in local parks. Team subs generally don’t cover pitch hire for training sessions so it can be prohibitive. If you know of good financing options, please comment and let everyone know!

Differences between contact and flag

“Remembering that you can’t hit people as they run a post or slant across the middle of the field. Dealing with annoying flag football plays eg: small shovel passes or quick rugby passes. Or just generally milking the cow when missing grabbing flags.”

“The quickness of the game.”

Having felt the brunt of this a few times from (usually) newer players to the flag scene, the “non” bit of “non-contact” often gets overlooked, especially by the aforementioned questionable referees!


“Repetition individually and as a team. There’s just not enough time. Players dig into the big things and doesn’t look at the details. Yeah you made a catch but why and was it really any good or just a catch? A LOT of good football is left in the wake of NO GOOD REPETITIONS!”

And my favourite response of the bunch (which may or may not be because I empathise!)…

“Throwing against those ridiculously tall Manchester Crows defenders.”

The Manchester Crows arrive at training (Image courtesy of Laughing Squid)


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