It’s happening more frequently – parents pulling their children out of tackle football over safety concerns.

Some assume flag football is a safer alternative for their kids, but a recent study from the University of Iowa found there is a higher rate of injuries in flag football compared to traditional tackle football.“We did find that there were slightly more injuries in the flag leagues than the tackle leagues, but the more severe injuries were the same between the groups, and the number of concussions were the same between the groups,” explained sports medicine specialist Andrew Peterson.

Researchers out of Iowa studied more than 3,700 youth players grades 2 through 6. The study found kids playing tackle reported more severe injuries, but those playing flag reported more injuries overall and more minor injuries. Severe injuries are considered broken bones, concussions, and ligament tears. Minor injuries included scrapes, bruises, minor sprains and contusions.

So why is this?

“It might be the kinds of kids that choose flag football over maybe the types of coaches or other personnel we have around the flag leagues vs tackle leagues,” Peterson said. “Maybe they are more likely to report these more minor injuries.”

The good news is the number of injuries in both flag and tackle are a lot lower than they used to be.