Prior to 1980, Touch Football Leagues were all that existed. But in 2-hand touch football there were always the inevitable “got you/you didn’t get me” arguments. While attending NYU and working at Macy’s part-time, George Higgins recruited other stores in Roosevelt Field Mall to create football teams. They would compete recreationally on Sunday’s in the Fall of 1982, informally calling themselves the Roosevelt Field Flag Football League! . The 6 teams experimented with different rules on a trial & error basis. The first season was played at Eisenhower Park, Parking Field 4 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. George Higgins researched flag belts 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. 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, 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. In 1986, Higgins created 9-on-9 Flag Football and began holding huge National Tournaments in Princeton, NJ. From that point the Long Island league continued to expand at such a rate that by 1991 there were over 200 teams and the Super Bowls were being played at Giants Stadium and televised on Cablevision. In 1995, the league launched one of the first sports websites, FlagFootball.com, 1 year before the NFL had its own web site!! In 1998, the NFL asked George Higgins to come to their offices on Park Ave. and together they created NFL FLAG, a non-contact youth division for children 5-17 years old. In 2000, George Higgins created 5-on-5 flag, 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!