While attending NYU and working at Macy’s part-time, George Higgins recruited other nearby stores to create football teams. They would compete recreationally on Sunday’s in the Fall of 1982. The 4 teams experimented with different rules on a trial & error basis. The first season was played at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, NY. The teams adjusted the field size, decided which kind of blocking was permitted, and figured out how long the game should be, etc. The coaches would even ref the original games. They started out playing 2-hand touch football but there was always the inevitable “got you/you didn’t get me” argument. So George Higgins researched other methods and found out about Roger Hightower. Roger was a gym teacher in Arizona who had created flag belts for his students called the Triple Threat Flag Belt, in that it had 3 flags attached to the belt. Remove the belt, play is over. No argument.
Midway throughout the first season at Eisenhower Park the flag belts were worn and the modern game of 8-Man Flag Football, as we know it, was born. The teams finished that first season looking forward to the Fall of 1983, which would see the nameless league grow to 6 teams. Macy’s Jets, JC Penny, Hermans, Lenny’s Clam Bar, Gimbels, & Fortunoff’s. As 1984 approached, Higgins decided to call the group of teams the Long Island Flag Football League, and the worlds first official Flag Football League was born! The 6 coaches decided that there should be a Commissioner and George Higgins, its originator, was the logical choice.
The 1984 season was a huge success with Herman’s defeating Macy’s Jets in the leagues first ever Super Bowl. In 1985 some Suffolk players inquired about joining and the league renamed its original 6 teams the “Nassau” Division while the Suffolk teams had their own division at Commack High School. Long before Long Island High Schools ever had a “L.I Championship Game”, the LIFFL had its first ever “Long Island Super Bowl” in December 1985 with the Commack Bulldogs defeating Potters Pub. From that point the league continued to expand at such a rate that by 1991 there were 140 teams and the Super Bowls were playing played at Giants Stadium and televised on Cablevision.
In 1995 the league launched one of the first sports web sites, FlagFootball.com, 1 year before the NFL had its own web site!! In 1998 a non-contact youth division was added for children 5-17 years old and in 2000 George Higgins created 5-on-5, a non-contact version of flag football that is now played throughout the world! The Long Island Flag Football League is today, not only the largest “Men’s” football league in the world, it is also the largest “Youth” league in the world, regardless or Flag, Tackle, or Touch!