There’s no doubt football is one of the most popular sports in the United States and is the most popular spectator sport. Football is a true team sport with most players specializing in a particular position. Even with its popularity, football is often called a sport of violence due to the tackling. The numbers of kids participating in football dipped a few years ago, but the numbers seem to be back up and millions of kids will be taking the field this year to participate in youth flag and tackle football.
If your child jumps on you when you walk through the door and loves to rough house football may be the game for them. Playing can boost strength, stamina and agility. It also helps build character and values and teaches kids that if they get knocked down they must get back up. They will quite literally, be knocked down over and over again and expected to get back up.
Football has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years as concussions have become a major issue for college and NFL players. As youth football is starting to become more and more competitive, the question that keeps arising, is if we as parents should let our kids play. Is what your child takes away from the game of football worth the potential injury risk?
Football can help kids with aggression channel it in a controlled way. And, when kids are younger size doesn’t matter all that much. If you are unsure whether flag or tackle football is the best option for your child, do some research. Also, talk to team organizers and coaches to find out their training philosophy. Are they teaching proper tackling techniques and encouraging proper safety measures to help prevent injuries?
Under-6: Practices last 30 to 45 minutes one to two times a week with one game per week.
Under-8: Practices last one hour, one or two times a week with one game per week.
Under-10: Practices last one hour and 15 minutes, two or three times a week. At least one game per week.
10+: Practices last one hour and 30 minutes to two hours, three or more times a week. At least one game per week.
- T-Shirt, Football Jersey or Uniform
- Practice Clothes
- Tennis Shoes (younger kids)
- Football Cleats (older kids)
- Mouth Guard
- Football (Under-5s and younger (Mini) play with a No. 5; Players 6-9 year olds (Pee-Wee) play with a No. 6; Players 10-12 (Junior) use a No. 7.)
Tackle (in addition to items listed above)
- Neck Collar/Neck Roll
- Jockstrap and Cup
- Mouth Guard
- Thigh, Hip and Knee Pads
- Shoulder Pads
- Under-6 – start at $50.00
- Under-8 – start at $90.00
- Under-10 – start at $100.00
- 10+ – start at $110.00
Most leagues offer a fall and spring season.
- Helmet: $100+
- Neck Collar/Neck Roll: $50.00+
- Jockstrap and Cup: $10.00+
- Thigh, Hip and Knee Pads: $25.00+
- Shoulder Pads: $50.00+
- Gloves: $10.00+
- Registration: All ages – start at $40.00/month. Helmets and pads may be included with registration fees.
- Tournament Entrance Fees: $500+ per team
- Coach Tournament Fee and Travel Expenses: $100 – $500 average per event
- Travel Expenses: $100-$500 average per event
Many competitive programs may play with only a short break in the winter and a short break in the summer.
- T-Shirt, Football Jersey or Football Uniform: May be included with the registration fee. $40.00+ if not included.
- Football Cleats: $20.00+
- Mouth guards: $10.00+
- Ball: $15.00+
Fees vary according to what is provided by the organizing entity. Please keep in mind some registration fees are one time, others are monthly. All costs are approximate. As with any activity, as your child progresses, only your family can choose what you will spend in relation to your child’s specific goals within the sport whether competitively or recreationally.
There are several football leagues scattered across the metro. A handful are listed below. Schools and city parks and recreations departments also offer opportunities to play football.
Ankeny Junior Football – Ankeny
Dallas Center Grimes Youth Football League – Grimes
Greater Des Moines Catholic Football League – West Des Moines
I-9 Sports – Ankeny, Clive, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines
Indianola Youth Football League – Indianola
Johnston Youth Flag Football – Johnston
Little All American Tackle Football – Des Moines
Southeast Polk Youth Tackle Football – Altoona
Team J-Hawk Football – Urbandale
YMCA Youth Football – Ankeny, Des Moines, Indianola, Waukee, and West Des Moines
What do you think, is football a fit for your kid?