The National Football League (NFL) is making a strategic move to further its worldwide reach by pushing for the inclusion of flag football in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. The proposal, presented alongside other sports like cricket, baseball, lacrosse, and squash, seeks to introduce a less-violent variant of American football to the Olympic stage. The International Olympic Committee will vote on this proposition during their meetings in Mumbai, India, which commence later this week.
Flag football is a 5-on-5 format where tackles are made by pulling a flag off a belt worn by each player. Unlike traditional American football, there are no offensive and defensive linemen, making it a fast-paced and high-scoring game. In the 2027 World Games, the U.S. men’s flag football team clinched the gold medal, while the women’s team secured the silver.
This strategic move marks a significant step for the NFL, as it aims to grow both its participation and viewership outside of its traditional strongholds in western Europe and the United States. The league has been hosting games in Europe for over a decade, seeking ways to expand its global footprint. The inclusion of flag football in the Olympics provides an ideal platform for the NFL to introduce its brand to a worldwide audience.
Dan Durbin, the director of the Institute of Sports, Media, and Society at USC, noted the NFL’s dominance in the U.S. and the opportunity the Olympics offer to showcase the sport to a global audience. The NFL sees this endeavor as a unique chance to showcase American football’s appeal on an international scale.
In addition to flag football, the proposal also includes cricket, a sport virtually unknown in the United States. While cricket may face challenges in gaining traction in the U.S., its inclusion could serve as an incentive for countries where the sport enjoys immense popularity, such as Australia and potentially India, to participate in the Olympics.
The NFL’s push for flag football in the Olympics underscores its commitment to expanding its global audience and taking American football to new horizons. As the NFL seeks to diversify and innovate, the 2028 Olympics could be a pivotal moment in the sport’s international journey.
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