By Eddie Pells
Flag football took a key step toward becoming an Olympic sport in 2028, a victory for the NFL and organizers in Los Angeles who want to bring a distinctly American sport to the Summer Games as they return to the United States for the first time in 32 years.
Two people familiar with a proposal from the Los Angeles organizing committee told The Associated Press on Monday that the committee had delivered its proposal to the International Olympic Committee, setting it up for a vote at the IOC's meeting that starts Friday in Mumbai, India. The people did not want to be named because the LA committee was expected to release the information later Monday.
Other sports on the list included baseball and softball — which were in the Tokyo Games in 2021 but will not be played next year in Paris — lacrosse, squash and cricket, a sport with a much wider global reach that will go over well in Brisbane, Australia, which is hosting in 2032, and in India, where the vote will take place.
Out is breakdancing, which will be a one-and-done after its debut in Paris next year. Others not making the cut: motorsports, kickboxing and karate.
Unclear is whether other sports will have to trim the number of disciplines to help the IOC adhere to the limit it set of 10,500 athletes at a Summer Olympics. The addition of five team sports will inflate the number of participants.
Flag football is a less-violent cousin of America's most popular sport, one the NFL has been selling in Europe, Mexico and Japan for decades. This year, the NFL placed three games in London and two games in Germany on its schedule.
Flag football, in which “tackles” are made by pulling a flag off a belt worn by each player, would be a 5-on-5 affair played on a 50-yard field. There aren't offensive and defensive linemen. At the World Games last year, the U.S. men won the gold medal but the women fell to Mexico in the final.
While flag football will feel familiar to the home fans, cricket will be a steep learning curve. Hugely popular in India, Australia and Britain, it is virtually unknown in the United States. A version called Twenty20 — a shorter version of the original game — is proposed for the schedule in Los Angeles. Cricket was played once before at the Olympics — in Paris in 1900.