|THE VIRGINIA FLAG FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION: A Brief History
The Virginia Flag Football Association was formed in 1977. One of its founders was a Director of Parks and Recreation for a small community in northwestern Virginia. He was able to identify seven other leagues playing flag football in the State of Virginia. All leagues contacted were interested in having their teams compete in a state event.
The first order of business was to decide on the Tournament rules. Each of the seven flag football leagues played a different version of the sport; everything from 6-man to 9-man, with every kind of rule imaginable. In November, a Virginia State Parks and Recreation conference held in Richmond, provided the opportunity to resolve these differences. A special meeting was called after the day's workshops concluded. The seven league representatives brought their individual flag football rules to that meeting. It was determined that the flag football rules adopted would be those rules that the majority number of leagues were currently using. Incorporating this methodology, the first Virginia Flag Football Association Tournament Rules were crafted to everyone's satisfaction.
Since that time, the VFFA adopted the National Touch Football League rules, (the National rules published by The Athletic Institute), and then the USFFA (United States Flag Football Association) National rules. The VFFA does have several State Amendments, but most of these are minor in nature, and do not inhibit Virginia's teams from successfully competing in National events.
Our First Virginia State Tournament was held in December of 1977, with 17 teams. It had rained significantly on Saturday night, and the host Parks and Recreation department refused to permit continued play the next day for fear the fields would be damaged. Since the holidays soon followed, the Tournament did not resume until January. We completed the Tournament at another Park and Recreation department, in the bitter cold, on frozen fields, but complete it, we did! We then required a guarantee to allow play - rain or shine. Appropriately enough, the next two State Tournaments ('78 & '79), were held in virtual monsoons. Referees would set the ball and put their foot on it during huddles to keep it from floating away! In 1982, in Fairfax County, our Tournament was treated to seven inches of snow. For the most part, our State Tournaments have encountered quite decent weather, as it doesn't really get cold in Central Virginia until January.
As it was originally conceived, each Virginia Flag Football Association member league was allowed to send two representatives to the State Tournament. Since leagues vary in the number of teams (a minimum of four teams is required to join the VFFA), the two-team-per-league concept was considered by some members to be unfair. In 1987, the VFFA adopted a quota system. This system permits leagues of 4-8 teams to send two teams to the State Tournament. Leagues of 9-11 teams may send three, and leagues of twelve or more teams may send 4. This formula has encouraged league expansion, in order to gain more berths with a larger, stronger league.
In 1979, two years after its formation, the Virginia Flag Football Association joined what was then the United States Touch and Flag Football Association, now the USFFA. In 1980, Virginia hosted the National Tournament in Richmond, treating fellow member states to 78 degree temperatures. Since joining the USFFA, the VFFA, along with the Ohio Association, continued to lobby for a 7-man division. It finally came to pass in 1982. Prior to this, (since 1976), the Nationals were 9-man only. In 1986, just four years after it's inclusion, there were as many 7-man teams at the Nationals as there were 9-man.
The year the USFFA permitted a 7-man division, the VFFA Board of Directors voted to go to an 8-man format. The argument was, that since most teams only get to play once a week, with a running clock, that an 8-man version would permit two more players to participate in each play. The only rule adjustment necessary was to have four players (instead of three) on the line, and a regulation width field. In 1990, the USFFA also adopted the 8-man format.
The 1981 Nationals were held in Baltimore over Thanksgiving weekend. There was no way possible for Virginia to hold its State Tournament prior to that date, so the VFFA continued its USFFA membership, but did not send teams. That action permitted our association to fall behind. The VFFA now qualifies its teams for Nationals a year in advance. The VFFA pays each teams' National Tournament registration as bonus for qualifying.
During the 1983 Nationals in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a VFFA team captured the 7-man championship. Playing in a "mud bowl", in miserable conditions, Virginia was fortunate to overcome an outstanding Ohio ball club.
In 1991, the Virginia Flag Football Association celebrated its 15th anniversary, with 48 teams from 21 member leagues participating in the Virginia State Tournament. At our 20th anniversary in 1996, the VFFA adopted a "B" State Tournament to accommodate the growing interest in such a tournament, and to prepare those teams attending for movement up into their respective "A-leagues".