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With NFL and college football seeing record participation and viewership numbers, it seems like good times for the game at its highest levels.

However, at the youth level, participation in tackle football is dropping, seemingly at double digit percentages. Outpacing those declines though are massive increases in the number of people (of all ages) playing flag football. 

Observing the shift, USA Football, the sport's governing body, is also pivoting. Speaking with FootballScoop this week, USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck shared that they are expanding their focus on flag. "We will continue to support tackle football but we are shifting resources towards flag," he said. 

Hallenbeck noted that flag football will be a participating sport at the 2022 World Games and added that the longer term goal is to add flag football as an Olympic sport potentially in time for the 2028 Los Angeles games. 

Shifting resources to flag is consistent with the Football Development Model that USA Football supports and that many other countries utilize as well. The model seeks to grow the game from youth through adult, offering both non-contact and contact opportunities for players with an overall goal of growing the game safely. From the USA Football website, "USA Football created a group of medical, football and athlete development experts to develop ways to improve age-appropriate teaching methods, set standards to reduce contact, and define a progression of game types to benefit athlete development, confidence and overall well-being." 

While Hallenbeck stressed that our National Teams will still be involved with multi-country championships at the highest level, there will be a scaling back of resources devoted to the National Teams program, which has been run by Aaron Ingram for the past handful of years. Under Ingram's watch, the National Teams program worked with coaches and players across the country to identify and develop some of the most competitive players our country has to offer. 

As part of this shifting of priorities, Ingram is leaving USA Football and the National Teams program is being scaled back meaningfully. 

With the expanded focus on flag, Hallenback noted the significant increase in participation of females at the youth, high school, college and adult levels. "The data points to massive increases in participation in lacrosse and flag football and we're looking forward to seeing how our teams compete in the upcoming World Games in 2022."