Cricket and NFL-style flag football two of five new sports put forward for 2028 Olympics in LA

NFL players have already put themselves forward to feature in the Los Angeles Games

Rory Carroll
Tuesday 10 October 2023 08:28 BST
(Getty Images)

Some NFL players have expressed interest in playing for the U.S. flag football team if the sport is included in the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, an NFL executive told Reuters.

On Monday, LA28 organisers formally asked that flag football for both the men’s and women’s competitions as well as four other sports be added to the event.

Final approval of the programme is expected to come when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meets later this month in Mumbai.

It would mark the Olympic debut for flag football, a game that looks similar to tackle football, with passing and receiving, but requires little protective equipment, with play stopping when a defender pulls a cloth flag from the waist of an opponent.

Its potential inclusion, which is backed by the NFL and led by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), could open the door for some of the league’s stars to compete for a gold medal, although the details of how that would work still need to be ironed out.

“Certainly there are more discussions to be had around that possibility,” NFL Executive Vice President Peter O’Reilly said in a recent interview.

“But I will tell you that through this process a number of great young stars of the league have said how great it would be to represent their country and play flag.”

Tyreek Hill, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who plays wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, encouraged NFL players to seize the opportunity to capture what most expect would be an all-but-guaranteed gold medal for Team USA.

“Calling all @NFL guys let’s bring one home,” Hill posted on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The sport was included for the first time at the World Games held in Birmingham, Alabama last year, where the U.S. men’s team beat Italy to win gold.

On the women’s side, Mexico dominated the U.S. in the final behind the sensational play of breakout star quarterback Diana Flores, who was named MVP.

O’Reilly said one appeal of flag football is that it is low cost and that almost anyone can play it. By boosting the sport, the NFL hopes to raise the profile of American football internationally.

“We could not be more committed to flag football overall as this accessible, incredibly fast growing discipline of our sport that we believe will help us grow,” he said.

“The Olympics in LA would be a tremendous boost to flag football around the world and in this country.”

The four other sports LA28 put forward for inclusion on Monday were cricket, lacrosse, squash and baseball-softball.

An IOC spokesperson said the LA28 proposal for the additional sports was “well received.”

LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said: “The proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it.

“They’re relevant, innovative and community-based, played in backyards, schoolyards, community centres, stadiums and parks across the US and the globe.

“They will bring new athletes to the Games, engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games’ presence in digital spaces, further amplifying LA28’s mission to deliver an unparalleled experience.”

Squash, meanwhile, is set for its inaugural appearance at an Olympics in 2028, having missed out on a number of occasions, as is flag football.

Baseball/softball was dropped from Paris 2024 having been selected for Tokyo 2020, with host cities able to submit sports they want adding to the schedule. Lacrosse has been on the Olympic programme on five occasions but not since 1948.

Reuters and agencies

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