Birmingham, Alabama - Is flag football the secret ingredient required to get American football on the Olympic sports program? The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) and the National Football League (NFL) think so.
“Vision28,” a group co-chaired by Pierre Trochet, President of IFAF, and Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the NFL, was unveiled during a press conference at The World Games 2022 on Wednesday. The group’s main objective is to see American football played at the Olympic Games.
American football was last played at the Olympic Games in 1932. It was only a demonstration sport then, played in the tackle variety by two teams of U.S. college students. “Vision28″ wants to bring American football back to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but in a revolutionary format.
Flag football will be the format put forth by the group for inclusion in the Olympic Games. The format is significantly different from the domestically popular tackle format. It is played with five players on the field, instead of the usual 11 for instance. It is currently being demonstrated at The World Games 2022.
“Flag is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports for a reason. It’s fast, it’s creative, it’s skillful, it’s fun. It’s America’s sport with a Californian spirit,” said Trochet. He believes flag football will be a perfect fit at the LA28 Olympics.
“Flag will be a statement pick for LA28, embodying the vision of new-era Games at the nexus of sports and entertainment. We have seen a glimpse of all that potential here at The World Games.”
He added a personal touch to the announcement of “Vision28,” telling reporters, “when I started playing this game, I was six-years-old coming from a small town in France. I started the game because my father told me that by the time I grew up our sport will become an Olympic sport. Today, this dream feels closer than ever for us.”
Diana Flores, IFAF Athlete Ambassador, echoed Trochet’s remarks, commenting, “as an athlete it is my dream to see flag football in the Olympic Games - to see the game that I love represented on sport’s greatest stage. It would truly be the highlight of my life to represent my country at Los Angeles 2028.”
Trochet and Flores also have the benefit of having a powerful ally behind them, the NFL.
Vincent confirmed the commitment of the high profile professional sports league, stating, “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.”
“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.”
He expanded on the larger vision shared by the NFL and IFAF, telling the gathered press, “we’re looking forward to not just the LA28 [Olympic Games]. We want to make flag football embedded in, and possibly being a part of, the Olympic Games for decades to come.”
“That’s the ultimate goal,” he confirmed.
In response to a question about the league releasing players to play in the Olympics, Vincent replied, “absolutely, that’s why we’re here.”
He added, “I think the world wants to see the best of the best. We started talking about skill level and initiative to compete. They’ll have that option and choice.”
Ultimately, the final decision on the sport’s inclusion will lie with the International Olympic Committee. However, it’s hard to see local organizers passing on the opportunity to have one of the country’s most popular sports, backed by one of the country’s most powerful professional leagues, at the Olympic Games.