The NFL wants to add American football to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, but not the breed of American football its fans are used to.
Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, will work alongside International Federation of American Football president Pierre Trochet as co-chairs of the “Vision28” group, an effort to add flag football to the Los Angeles Games, the NFL announced Wednesday.
No form of American football has been seen at the Olympics since 1932, when a group of college players took part in a “demonstration” event in Los Angeles.
Flag football is currently making its debut at The World Games, the international sporting event featuring a litany of non-Olympic sports. The U.S. is predictably competing in both the men’s and women’s events, with each team slated to play in the semifinals in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday.
The NFL’s reason for joining the push to put flag football in the Olympics seems pretty obvious. Getting American football, in any form, onto the world’s biggest stage is a win.
Vincent’s explanation, via the NFL:
“We see flag football as an all-inclusive sport, which makes it a great vehicle to spread the values of American football around the world.
“As co-chair of the Vision28 mission, the NFL is committed to place critical assets such as technological, broadcast, commercial, sports science, youth engagement, fan engagement at the service of the Olympic movement and our shared global goal of football for all.”
What other sports are trying to enter the Olympics in Los Angeles?
Flag football won’t be the only sport under consideration for addition to the Los Angeles Games. Baseball and softball will be looking for another appearance at the Olympics after a temporary return in Tokyo and the International Cricket Council is also pushing for a bid in 2028. Other candidates reportedly include flying disc, lacrosse, sambo and teqball.
Boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting, a trio of Olympic staples, are also currently on the outside looking in after being left off the initial Los Angeles program, but have a pathway back in if certain conditions are met.
What does flag football look like at The World Games (and maybe the Olympics)?
Under World Games rules, flag football is played 5-on-5 with no contact and on a 50-yard by 25-yard field, with 10-yard end zones. Players can be “tackled” by the removal of any three flags on their belt.
Teams get a set of four downs and a new set of downs if they cross midfield. Scoring is familiar with touchdowns scoring six points, and teams can go for one extra point by trying to score from five yards out or two extra points from 10 yards out.
Games are played in 20-minute halves and with 15-player rosters.