In year three, Eastern Iowa's NFL flag football league sees participation jolt

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa. (KCRG) - Arnold Smith and his son share a love for football, but when Smith was searching for a flag football league for his son to play in, he found himself wanting more, so he started his own league.

“I could not only help, but I could affect a lot more kids and not only get them playing football and getting them better, but also I can give them something to do over the summer.” Smith said at Sunday's Super Bowl at Mount Mercy.

Each and every weekend throughout the summer season the Eastern Iowa NFL Flag Football League plays its games. The season ended on Sunday with the Super Bowl, which was played at Mount Mercy's soccer field.

The league started in 2017 with 84 kids participating. Now two years later, that number has expanded to 350.

“We also had enough kids so we could play first all the way through eighth grade." Smith said.

Safety is something that always a main concern for parents getting their children involved with football, and Smith strongly believes the league's unique policies is a big reason for its exponential growth.

“There's very minimal contact. You can only block within five yards of the line of scrimmage so you won’t have your child running downfield, you know, or even another child running downfield and getting hit. Safety is really big. A lot of parents have been very receptive to it.” Smith said.

Alongside basic things like technique, Smith and the rest of the coaches try their best to implement real life lessons that can translate off the field.

“You may be down 14 points you know that doesn’t mean you hang your head. Just like in life, some things may go wrong, that doesn’t mean you hang your head. You always look up to the sky and you try to fight it. Everyday is a battle and you always have to be out there in the fight.” Smith said.