The Extra Point

More Girls are Playing Tackle Football

Tackle football has traditionally been a boys sport, but that’s starting to change. Spurred in part by girls-only tackle football leagues in Utah and Texas, 47 of 50 states saw an increase in the percentage of girls who play high school tackle football in 2018 compared to a decade ago.

The following heatmaps show the percentage change of high school 11-person tackle football players that were girls using participation data from NFHS.

In California, the percentage of girls playing was 4.7 times higher in 2018, jumping from 0.14% of players to 0.65% of players.  California’s 593 girls playing tackle football was the highest total among all states. Nearby New Mexico had the highest percentage, with girls making up more than 1 percent of all players in 2018. 

On the other side of the country, 204 girls played tackle football in 2018 in New Jersey, a rate that was 6.3 times higher than in 2008. Throughout the Northeast region, the rate of girls on teams grew by a factor of 5.9, with large jumps in participation in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont. 

Across the country, 2,404 girls played tackle football in 2018.  

Tackle football isn’t the only way girls participation continues to grow. Georgia in 2019 became the fourth state to sanction girls flag football as an official high school sport — an effort that was led by the Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation — and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just allocated $250,000 to create the first ever girls flag scholarship program.

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