Tucker High School head flag football coach Desmond Lee said he thinks flag football will soon explode in popularity — similar to how sports such as lacrosse have grown over the last several decades.
Lee has led the Tucker Lady Tigers to a perfect 9-0 start this season, after spending the offseason spreading flag football knowledge and helping other programs start, so he said he has his finger on the pulse of the sport at the local level.
According to Lee, the next step for flag football is to have teams at all DeKalb high schools that offer sports and then to move the sport to middle and elementary schools.
All but two of the DeKalb high schools with football teams now have flag football teams, after the district began offering the sport in 2020. Cedar Grove and Stephenson are the only schools that do not offer the sport.
“I think next year all teams in the county will have a flag football team,” said Lee. “I remember a time when lacrosse first got started, and now kids can play all over the country and get scholarships to division one programs. I think you’ll see the same thing start happening with flag football.”
Lee added that as the sport gains participants and popularity, it will also gain traction at other levels. The Olympics announced that flag football will be played in the 2028 games, and Lee said he thinks major colleges will also be offering scholarships by then.
He added that the sport being relatively new will also result in rapid progress for athletes, teams, and coaches – which will snowball into a more exciting sport with more fans.
“As coaches are around it for longer and as girls start out at a younger age, you’ll start to see some amazing athletes in this sport,” said Lee. “There’s nothing in flag football that the girls see guys do, that the girls can’t do themselves.”
What sets flag football apart from other “newer” sports is the speed and excitement that goes into the game, according to Lee.
“We like to see spectacular plays and we love to see speed; those are coveted in a lot of sports. You’re going to see track athletes out here and they’re going to be hard to catch. You have girls out here who can run 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash … and they’re out there snagging the ball down and making defenders miss,” said Lee.
“You see a lot of the things that we love to see in regular football. Once you get the right athletes out there, this will turn into a sport where people will come to watch it in big stadiums.”
Lee said the Lady Tigers are an example of the potential for development at an individual level and when it comes to growing the sport and its fanbase.
The Lady Tigers have already matched its win total from 2022 and will surpass its 2021 win total with one more win in 2023. Lee attributed the success to his team’s development.
“We’re 7-0 and we’re a little over the halfway point of the season. This is the best we’ve done so far, and we’re only in our third year,” said Lee.
Malia Davis leads the offense from his position at running back along with quarterback Amala Lindquist.
Lindquist’s main target is Christine Jackson – who Lee said has become a downfield threat with her ability to make high-point catches. Nijah Lewis has led the Lady Tigers on defense by applying quarterback pressures and collecting tackles.
The accumulation of talent and returning players has left the Lady Tigers with high expectations following the first half of the season.
“Our first goal is having an undefeated regular season,” said Lee. “We’re also shooting for a state championship. I think we have a shot at making a run.”
Lee said that the season will still be a success, even if his team doesn’t reach its season goals.
“The main goal of flag football is to increase athletic participation and to show girls that they can play sports just like the guys do,” said Lee. “The ladies have made big play after big play; they’ve done a tremendous job.”