Flag Football Set to Touch Down as Olympic Sport in 2028

Flag football was one of five sports approved for LA '28 by the IOC

Players compete in a championship flag football game.
Flag football is on the verge of being approved by the IOC.
Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty

The morning after America watched Taylor Swift watch the Kansas City Chiefs stomp the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football, the International Olympic Committee executive board approved flag football for inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Flag football, one of five sports approved by the IOC on Friday morning, has one more hurdle to tackle before it is officially cleared to touch down as a full-fledged Olympic sport in 2028. In addition to flag football, the IOC approved cricket, lacrosse, squash and baseball-softball for the LA edition of the Olympics. In order for the five sports to make the cut, about 100 IOC members will have to sign off on the board’s recommendation at an upcoming meeting.

“These proposals have been accepted as a package by the IOC executive board,” IOC president Thomas Bach said at a news conference. “Taking into consideration that these proposals and these sports are fully in line with the sports culture of our hosts in 2028, with the American sports culture, they will showcase iconic American sports to the world while bringing at the same time international sports to the United States.”

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If flag football gains approval at the upcoming IOC meeting, it will be a huge win for the NFL, which has been attempting to expand American football from a national pastime to a global obsession. “The NFL is such a uniquely American sport and this is their big, global try,” Dan Durbin, the director of the Institute of Sports, Media and Society at USC told The Associated Press. “The NFL dominates in the U.S. You get 10 miles into the Atlantic or Pacific and it disappears. This gives it a chance to make it visible to a global audience.”

According to the NFL, flag football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports and it is already played by more than 20 million people in more than 100 countries. If flag football is approved by the IOC and U.S. Olympic Committee approves him as a member of the American team, Rob Gronkowski will become one of those people.

“Hopefully there’s no tryouts and they just accept me,” Gronkowski told TMZ. “But I’m in. I’m going for that if there is flag football in the Olympics in 2028. I can tell you this. If there was a flag football league — an NFL flag football league — I would be playing in that currently as we speak.”

Perhaps Tyreek Hill, who is on pace to break the NFL’s all-time record for receiving yards in a single season, will join Gronk in LA in ’28. “You know how amazing it would be to assemble a super-team to play in the Olympics?” Hill said on his It Needed To Be Said podcast. “That would be crazy. To be able to go to the Olympics and actually win a medal.”

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