I attended my first flag football game Thursday night when Crestview High School hosted Fort Walton Beach.
I hoped to make it to a game earlier in the season, but things kept popping up. I even showed up for the April 3 game with Choctawhatchee — only to find out it had been postponed.
Before Thursday's game, won by Crestview 7-6, I asked officials in the parking lot to briefly explain the rules.
Being an old lineman, my idea of flag football is flagging the opponent with a hard hit.
I quickly learned — much to my dismay — my kind of flagging would draw a penalty.
Guess that means I better stick with writing sports.
Flag football has been played across the state for several years, but only this year was it introduced as a sport in Okaloosa County.
In two years, local teams will be able to compete in state-sanctioned events and the playoffs. For now, coaches, players and local officials are learning the game's finer points.
I have yet to develop an opinion about flag football.
I think I like it.
It almost would go against everything in my being not to like something football.
Girls flag football reminds me of the 7-on-7 passing leagues varsity football teams have in the summer, only without the contact associated with the guys.
Having covered most of the girls on the Crestview team in some other sport, I wasn't surprised by their athleticism or toughness. Many of basketball, volleyball and soccer's skill sets transition well to the flag football field.
Perhaps the best thing about flag football is it gives more young women an opportunity to compete and embrace athletics for the first time or to discover a new sport.
Any time young women or men have a chance to be active, we all win.
It was cool and overcast Thursday, and it would be a stretch to say attendance was sparse. I don't know if the weather had anything to do with that, but I do know athletes compete better when fans are in the stands.
Still, this is just the first season, and it takes awhile for any sport to build a following.
I doubt that Jack Foster Stadium will ever be packed to capacity for a flag football game, but I believe local fan interest will grow with the sport.
Players on this year's Crestview team will never lift a championship, but they can take satisfaction in knowing they have helped build a foundation for flag football's future at their school and in the county.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.