By CONNIE PARISH
Special to the Times
Flag or tackle football for third- to sixth-graders in Lansing’s parks and recreation leagues?
That issue was raised Thursday by Jeff Coder, who’s coached and been involved with the football program. Jason Crum, parks and recreation director, indicated the parks and recreation board is recommending switching to flag football for that age group. Younger players already participate in flag football.
Coder favors the tackle version of the game, and he thinks finding enough players this year shouldn’t be a problem after the Super Bowl win by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Crum said there’s been a decline in numbers particularly for third- and fourth-graders, something he attributes to the research and stories concerning players suffering concussions. He said the move to flag football has taken hold in a number of communities.
Kerry Brungardt, a council member who is also principal at Lansing Middle School, said he’s also seen fewer middle school students going out for football. Crum said it’s particularly unusual to see tackle football for this age group sponsored by parks and recreation departments of cities.
Council member Gene Kirby mentioned the experience of his daughter, a pediatrician, who has medical knowledge about concussions.
Darren Olson, who has a son on the team, said he first played flag football and has now gone through the transition to tackle.
“He’s now obsessed with football,” Olson said. “There’s not a question we’d have enough to fill a team.”
City Administrator Tim Vandall noted he didn’t think council members needed to make a decision Thursday night, but could talk about it at a study session. Crum said they need to let the leagues and parents know as soon as possible.
The topic is expected to be on a work session agenda in the near future.