January 9th, 2011
American football originated in the mid-19th century, with the first college game taking place in 1869. The popularity of touch and flag football is a 20th-century phenomenon. Touch football, known as “touch and tail,” was played in the 1930s and soon became an intramural sport. This was an attractive option for students who wanted to participate in athletics but feared the violence of early footballeven after the introduction of safety gear and regulations by the Intercollegiate Athletic Association (later the NCAA) in 1906, touch football was still a less dangerous alternative.Flag football came about a decade later after the introduction of touch football, and actually evolved as a recreational sport on American military bases, allowing soldiers to play football without risk of injury. Fort Meade is said to be the site of the first recorded flag football game. Afterwards, flag football also became a popular sport for recreational leagues in the 1940s and 1950s.Because of their obvious similarities, touch football and flag football are often paired together in conversation. The National Touch Football League, the first national organization for the sports, was created in St. Louis in the 1960s. The NTFL introduced a national championship game in 1971, and also had the first Hall of Fame for flag football players. In 1979, the University of New Orleans hosted the first National Collegiate Flag Football Championship, which has survived up to the present day.As flag and touch football grew in popularity, competing national organizations were created. The United States Flag & Touch Football League was founded in 1988 by NTFL veteran Mike Cihon. Of the two, only the USFTFL survives today. The American Flag and Touch Football League, formed in 1991, was another alternative national organization, and others have been formed in the successive years. However, no organization has ever risen to become the governing body for the sport. The last serious attempt was made by the Professional Flag Football League, Inc., which existed from 1997 until 1999.