If the idea of no American football on a more national stage saddens you, you could be in for a treat – though, it may take a few years.
Speaking to the Associated Press, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations and former Eagles cornerback, Troy Vincent said that flag football not only stands out as a potential model for the game’s next stage but that the league is working towards making it an Olympic sport in 2028.
“When I’ve been asked over the last 24 months, in particular, what does the next 100 years look like when you look at football, not professional football, it’s flag,” Vincent, a five-time Pro-Bowler, said.
“It’s the inclusion and the true motto of ‘football for all.’ There is a place in flag football for all.”
Vincent highlighted the growing number of men and women playing football globally, while also pointing out six states have sanctioned flag football as a high school varsity spot, with a dozen more interested. “It’s a cost-effective sport feasible for all to play,” he said.
Would Flag Football Actually Work In The Olympics?
While it’s encouraging to see Vincent and the NFL trying to expand their reach and perhaps bring more viewership to the struggling Olympics with flag football, there are definitely questions about the logistics of it all.
First, if actual NFL players were competing, it would come at an extremely bad time due to it being smack dab in the middle of training camp and preseason. That would mean a serious lack of star appeal compared to other Olympic sports.
The quality of the performance would also suffer greatly as a result, perhaps making it equal to one of the Triple-A leagues like the USFL. Not something you’d probably want to leave on for more than a minute.
Of course, flag football also carries fewer burdens like gear, scheduling, and injuries than actual football, making it more suitable for the two-week Olympic period.
- In 2028, the Olympics are set to be held in Los Angeles, marking the first time since 1996 the U.S. has held the event.
- The host cities can ask the IAC for additions – Paris had breakdancing added for 2024, while karate was added in Tokyo back in 2020.
- Given Los Angeles’ push to make the city a football town, petitioning for flag football is probably all but a given.
Flag Football Is One Possible Option Towards Combating CTE
While flag football in the Olympics is one thing, incorporating it into the billion-dollar game is a whole other ballgame (literally). Physicality has long been a premier factor of football, and while the league has taken steps to enforce safer tackles and overall play, it remains a distinctive feature.
- After all, some of the best moments in football have come from solid hits by the defense, to running backs bulldozing players over on their way to a 70-yard run.
- Flags could eliminate those kinds of game-changing plays.
- Of course, player health is also a very pressing issue that shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Even with ever-improving helmets meant to suppress chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), traumatic injuries remain a constant problem.
- A 2017 JAMA study looked at 202 autopsied brains of former players across all levels of play (NFL, college, high school) and found that 177, or 90%, of the brains, were diagnosed with CTE. 99% of the former NFL players had CTE.
- Most recently, deceased wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was revealed to have had stage 2 CTE when he passed away in 2021.
If nothing else, the incorporation of flag football into the Olympics could serve as a study to see not only how well the sport is received on a national stage, but how it could perhaps change the direction of increasingly alarming brain injuries for retired players.