What is flag football, soon to be the newest Olympic sport?

Today, IOC members will vote on whether to add soccer (and baseball/softball, cricket, lacrosse, and squash) to the Los Angeles Olympic program. This appears to be a formality after the proposal had already been approved by IOC President Thomas Bach and his executive committee before the weekend.

Stealing tapes

So teach football. In America, the sport is mainly played by children, but since 2017, there has been a professional national competition, whose matches are rarely broadcast. The system debuted last year at the World Games, an international tournament for sports outside of the Olympic boat.

Flag football is a type of non-contact football played in the NFL. The basic rules are roughly the same: teams must gain as much ground as possible with an oval ball, either by passing or running, in order to eventually reach the opponent’s “end zone.” Biggest Team: In flag football, stealing one of the two straps around an opponent’s waist is considered a “tackle,” in which players in the NFL roughly tackle each other to the ground.

Helmets and protective clothing are not necessary for flag football. The field is also smaller and teams consist of five or seven players, compared to eleven players in tackle type. The fact that the sport, unlike the NFL version, is played by both men and women, is an important condition for the IOC’s debut.

“The future of sports”

Officially, the sport is promoted by the International Federation of American Football, which surprisingly is based in Paris and to which 75 countries belong. But the big driving force behind this proposal is the NFL. The competition also attracts interest abroad, but serious international growth is limited by the limited practice of the sport.

“When we talk about the future of sports, we’re definitely talking about football,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s chief athletic officer, said last year. “It’s for everyone.” Vincent confirmed that guys in the NFL will continue to tear each other apart for the time being. Football tackle will also not disappear quickly in colleges, which is a stepping stone to the pros.

According to the NFL, soccer is played by nearly 20 million people in 100 countries around the world. After the United States, participation will be highest in Canada, China, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, the sport is mainly played by children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. The safe alternative became popular among American parents after the discovery of a link between American football and serious brain damage. Young children have gravitated en masse to tackle: between 2016 and 2021, the number of players fell by 29 per cent, according to calculations by research agency Project Play, while participation in football in the same age group increased by 15 per cent.

Super team

You still have to look carefully for a flag football game shown on American television, but in February, the NFL got the general public accustomed to it with a demonstration game with stars of its own production. The so-called Pro Bowl, which ends the season, has become a laughing stock over the years due to the poor efforts of players who did not want to get injured on the cusp of their vacation.

Here too, the NFL found the cure in football. The exhibition match in which the players displayed agility, speed and smiling faces – without helmets – was relatively well watched.

If the sport becomes an Olympic event in 2028, the question is whether NFL stars will be allowed to participate. Last week there were already a lot of fantasies about which players could best represent the United States.

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Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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