NFL Flag Championship kicks off

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WMAR) -  

The impact of concussions in professional sports -- particularly football -- has grown into a national discussion.  This week President Obama said if he had a son he would have to "think long and hard" before letting him play football.
 
One potential solution may be limiting the number of hits kids take as they grow up and learn the game.
 
The NFL has embraced flag football for boys and girls; the "NFL Flag" Championship was held at a park not far from the Superdome in New Orleans on Tuesday.
 
A team from Leesburg, Virginia won a regional tournament in Baltimore back in October, so they had the opportunity to play in New Orleans.
Many of them are Ravens fans.  "If they win, we might win," said Derek McCandless, who plays on the team.
 
There are similarities to tackle football.  "We work on plays a lot, routes to get better," said another player, Nick Barts.
 
There are no pads, no helmets, no blocking and no tackling.  The coach says that makes the game safer and more appropriate for kids.
 
"You're focusing on the skills they're going to need in the game. Tackling is a skill and they're going to learn how to do it, but do you really want a six or seven year old running into another six or seven year old," said the coach, Bobby Barts.
 
The idea, he says, is to prevent the cumulative effect of concussions by lessening the chance kids will get even one until they get older.  For now, the focus stays on throwing and catching, and having fun.
 
"It's awesome because this is my first time in New Orleans and on Super Bowl weekend you can brag to all your friends.  I'm in New Orleans," McCandless said.
 
The team from Leesburg made it to the playoffs in the NFL Flag Championship tournament on Tuesday, but they lost in the first round.
 
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