The Olympics are unlike any other sporting event in the world. For the duration of 16 days, over 300 events from 35 sports and all countries in the world are competing to win their coveted medals. I’ve been looking at the Summer Olympics every 4 years from as long as my memory allows. There’s always something that was missing. It’s one of United States most popular sports and an elite sport in the globe, it seems as if flag and tackle football might be Olympic sports by 2024. However, a number of issues remain to happen. We’ll first go over some of the reasons to having American Football included into the Olympics hasn’t been an easy process and then we’ll explain why we believe flag football will be the best option for a possible Olympic sport.
Why isn’t AMERICAN football already an OLYMPIC sport? According an article from NFL.com the most significant logistical challenges that face the sport of American Football being included in the Olympics are similar to those faced by Rugby. Because of the high number of players on each team as well as it is also a case of “gender equality” formats where both genders participate in all sports, and the shortened schedule of 3 weeks that is challenging with the more intense game of rugby and football. In addition, in the case of American Football, the barrier to entry is quite high due to the high cost of equip athletes with pads as well as equipment that has been slow to be adopted in several other countries, particularly those with the lower-end varieties.
Given all of this it’s difficult to imagine which sport is an ideal fit to compete in at the Summer Olympics. Rugby is similar to Soccer in that a minimum amount is required to play the game with regard to equipment and practice at a basic stage, and also has an even larger fan base internationally. The reason for this is that it has recently enabled Rugby to be approved for the Olympics which will begin in 2016 by changing the style to a more modern “sevens” format which is quicker-paced with fewer people that could create the same pathway in the direction of American Football, or flag football specifically.
TACKLE SAFETY CONCERNS
In addition, more and more high schools professional and college teams are beginning to cut down on the amount of contact training but they are still wearing the kind of headgear that is softly padded and shoulder pads to provide additional protection. But what if we were able to restrict the amount of contact the players are exposed to prior to high school and middle school and also address some of the issues for the sport that are related to being accepted in the Olympics? There’s been plenty of discussion lately about the safety of tackle football and not only on the NFL where concussions pose a serious risk. Beginning at the youth level Recent evidence has emerged suggesting that even without concussions, repeated head collisions and head impacts could result in the same way as head injuries later on for children who are tested between the age of 8 and 13. A lot of researchers suggest that kids should not play football, and claiming that children’s head is “a larger part of their body, and their necks are not as strong as adults’ necks. So kids may be at a greater risk of head and brain injuries than adults.”
DREW BREES BELIEVES FLAG FOOTBALL CAN SAVE FOOTBALL
In 2015, research studies have shown flag football to be the fastest growing sport for youth within the United States, greatly outpacing the development that traditional football has experienced. A lot of high schools are switching to flag football instead of tackle, and encouraging other schools within their region to join in by establishing organized divisions and leagues. It’s also an official sports that is varsity in many states, and especially for women specifically, flag football can be a method to facilitate participation in a way that isn’t its physical aspects of tackle.And this isn’t the only one. Recently, Drew Brees was interviewed by Peter King for NBC’s pregame show. He had some strong statements on the reasons he believes that flag football could be the solution. “I feel like flag football can save football,” Brees declared. Brees is the coach of the flag football squad of his son and played flag football throughout junior high, not taking on tackle football after high school. “I feel like (flag football) is a great introductory method for a lot of kids into football,” Brees said. “Otherwise I feel it’s very easy to go in and have a bad experience early on and then not want to ever play it again. I feel like once you put the pads on there are just so many other elements to the game, and you’re at the mercy of the coach in a lot of cases too. And to be honest, I don’t think enough coaches are well-versed enough in regards to the true fundamentals of the game especially when the pads go on at the youth level.” Many professional players and coaches have shared similar opinions and have praised the game of flag football. the growing popularity of the sport is a reflection of the sentiments of those who have praised it.
Flag football isn’t an accident or a recreational tool which feeds into tackle football. It’s an entire sport that has its own distinct identity and mission and it’s about time to recognize this difference.
Internationally , it is growing in popularity too, but much faster as traditional American football where the hurdle to entry is greater due to the requirement of complete pads and equipment. In Mexico for example flag football is growing in popularity, and many think it’s the second-highest-rated sport in soccer, and is closing quickly with an the estimation of 2.5 million players playing at the elementary stage. International teams are beginning to travel to some of the most well-known American flag football events including teams in Panama, Indonesia, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada and more. It’s a frequent event.
Everywhere you go there is a surge in participation and excitement the game flag football are exploding.
For adults the year was an all-time record year for the game that is flag football. Numerous major events are popping up all over the globe, with hundreds of teams competing across all types of formats, age groups and styles. Cash prizes are at an all-time high which is expected to exceed 100,000 in team prize money during the coming calendar year. Sponsors are beginning to note of this with brands such as EA Sports, Nerf, Hotels.com, Red Bull and other major brands taking note of the benefits and potential growth of soccer as a method to reach their targeted audiences in large quantities. The participation of women in flag football is on the rise as its growing popularity among youth and is the most popular method of play for American football in the majority of Central and South American countries.
What does all this bring us back to the Olympics and the possibility of having American football recognized as the official sports? Before we begin, let’s go over some of the history behind where the sport is today in relation to the International Olympic Committee IOC, also known as the IOC.
The past has taught us that to be considered for the Olympic games for demonstration sports, you need to be part of an International Federation and also have participated in at least one World Championship competition. It must be held for a minimum of six years prior to the date of the Olympic games. It is the International Federation of American Football is primarily concerned with tackle football, however incorporates flags into its tournament lineup, has met this requirement and was formally recognized in 2012 and was granted preliminary recognition in 2014. This could open the way to allow American football’s inclusion to be added as an official sports, and flag football to be an official sport’s discipline However, the IFAF has faced setbacks because of alleged scandals as well as misappropriation of funds, which do not be a positive sign for the sport’s inclusion in the short-term. Thankfully, in 2007, the IOC approved a new and more flexible set of rules which allows for programs to be submitted for review following each Olympics beginning in 2020, paving an avenue through which all teams can put forward their arguments for inclusion with the simple majority vote.
The opportunity exists to allow American football to participate at the top sporting event in the globe But how can we get over the hurdles posed by the structure of the sport in order to be able to compete in the successful Olympic sport?
FLAG FOOTBALL IS THE KEY TO OLYMPIC INCLUSION
In every way that tackle football doesn’t fit into the pattern as a viable option for the IOC There’s flag football. These are four reasons why flag football ought to be considered to be added as one of the future Olympic sport.
- It’s less physically demanding than Tackle Football.
As we’ve established that flag football can be a safer alternative to tackle football. Fewer collisions and hits mean less injuries, and flag football already has a successful model of success that is being acknowledged for its ability to preserve the sport for the future. However, when it is time for Olympic Games, especially the Summer Olympic Games, safety is only one that is a part of the demands of the game with less than a 3-week period to play in every level of competition and the continuous activity required to train and qualify. Imagine playing 6-7 full-contact football games on a small number of players in a period of just 16 days, not including other qualifying events that could be played all through the year. In the case of flag football, it’s unusual to have 6-7 matches over the span of a weekend or one day, which means the sport is well capable of this kind in tournaments.
As we’ve mentioned before the issue of flag football is a significant problem when it comes to determining if the sport can be considered. Despite the fact that the traditional American form of tackle is very popular all over the world the flag football game is popular in many countries. It’s less difficult to entry in terms of equipment and cost are concerned and doesn’t require the full length or football fields with stripes to be played and it’s simpler to organize spbo large tournaments and leagues that can generate local enthusiasm.
The format will depend on the one that is going to be utilized (our hypothesis is the 5v5 format or the 7v7) The game of flag football has less players in comparison to traditional tackle football. This is partly due to the fact that it is more physically-demanding and the requirement for fewer substitutions. The other reason is due to the fact that it requires smaller numbers of specialist players like punters, kickers or offensive linemen, special teams as well as defensive linemen. In contrast to traditional tackle football, where each team could have 50+ players the flag football team would require around 15 players which would reduce that number to less than one third. This is significant due to the fact that the Olympics restrict their total participation at 10,500 athletes and coaches. This also lets more nations compete particularly those with lower incomes which have a smaller and less expensive team in combination with the arguments that were mentioned earlier makes sense.
The issue of gender equality is a main goal of the IOC. In 2012, the Summer Olympics marked the first when all sports were able to compete women in their categories. In the present, any sport added to the Olympic Games must include both female and male players. In the case of tackle football there’s barely enough participation from women for it to be a viable option. While there are female players and certain female tackle football clubs and leagues however, it’s not in the norm, particularly with other aspects like physical appearance and entry barriers. For flag football , this isn’t an issue as stated in the previous paragraph as female participation is booming across the globe.
NEXT STEPS FOR FLAG FOOTBALL AND OLYMPIC INCLUSION
What are the next steps to continue riding the wave of flag football into the next Olympic games? It is the IFAF that IFAF has already contributed to the process of bringing this sport American Football in front of the IOC in recent times however, with their public problems and no progress since 2014, something is required to be done to move forward. We do know it is now being considered a serious sport at all levels for only the second time in the history of the sport and major organizations are making moves to be more involved in the world of flag football, and the development of larger and more international competitions to help fuel the game. We believe that , either as a stand-alone sport or as a part that is a part of football tackle, the flag game will be part of the Olympics at some point over the next 10-20 years.