- For Coaches
Flag football will debut as an Olympic sport when the games come to Los Angeles in 2028
USA Football, the sport’s governing body in the U.S., will organize and lead the country’s national teams in Olympic competition
INDIANAPOLIS – Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the addition of flag football to the Olympic program for the 2028 summer games in Los Angeles. The historic decision paves the way for flag football and USA Football’s U.S. National Teams to make their Olympic debut on home soil. The IOC’s decision came after the LA28 Organizing Committee recommended flag football and four other sports for inclusion in the Olympics last week.
USA Football, the sport’s governing body, a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and the U.S. representative to the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), is the only organization responsible for selecting and leading the U.S. National Teams.
“Today is a momentous day for American football,” said Scott Hallenbeck, CEO of USA Football. “We are incredibly thankful to the IOC and LA28 Organizing Committee for recognizing flag football as a sport worthy of inclusion in the Olympic Games, and we share our excitement and celebrate this historic occasion with the millions of flag football players across our country.
“The decision to add flag football to the 2028 Summer Olympic program in Los Angeles is an acknowledgment of the sport's tremendous international growth and appeal as a fast, exciting and competitive sport.
“USA Football works tirelessly to support the sport’s exponential growth at all levels by encouraging the creation of more pathways to play, and inclusion in the Olympic Games will have a transformative impact on our sport – from the grassroots level to our elite U.S. National Teams.
“As the governing body of American Football in the United States, we are committed to continuing to work closely with IFAF, the USOPC and the NFL as we pursue our collective efforts to grow the game for current and future generations.”
The expanding global opportunities for flag football are reflective of the sport’s staggering growth. In the United States alone, an annual participation study from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) in 2022, showed 7.1 million people participated in flag football while more than half a dozen states have sanctioned girls’ flag football as a varsity sport. Internationally, flag football is played by 20 million people in more than 100 countries.
“I’ve been playing flag football for 16 years and have had the honor of wearing the red, white and blue for USA Football’s Women’s Flag Football National Team since 2016, so this is a dream come true,” said Vanita Krouch, quarterback for USA Football’s U.S. Women’s National Team. “Being a part of the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028 is going to show the world what this sport is all about. Flag football is so competitive, it’s so creative and it’s so inclusive. This is a sport for everyone – men and women, boys and girls – and this can be a dream come true for them too because now they can see that there’s a path for them to compete at the highest level. I’m thankful to have been part of this journey, to see the sport grow and reach this point, and to rep the flag as part of the U.S. National Team.”
“I would never have dreamed that flag football in the Olympics would be a possibility, so this is an amazing day,” said Darrell "Housh" Doucette, quarterback for USA Football’s U.S. Men’s National Team since 2021. “I’m so happy for all the flag football players who helped the game reach this point but also for the younger players coming up that can see that they have the chance to represent the U.S. in their sport. It’s been an honor to be part of USA Football’s National Team and to rep the flag. Thank you USA Football, and thank you to all the flag football players and supporters who helped make this possible. It’s been a long journey, but we finally made it.”
Flag football made its international, multi-sport event debut at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Ala. where USA Football’s U.S. National Teams participated alongside roughly 3,500 athletes from approximately 100 countries.
This year, IFAF held its largest international cycle of flag football competition ever, with regional championships for all continents for the first time, laying the foundation for the 2024 IFAF Flag Football World Championships, in Lahti, Finland.
As part of the Continental Championships series, more than 150 athletes and coaches from seven different countries converged on Charlotte, N.C., in July for the IFAF Americas Continental Flag Football Championship hosted by USA Football.
In front of a capacity crowd, the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams prevailed in one-score championship games over Mexico to bring home gold. As a demonstration of the growing interest in flag football at the highest levels of the sport, NFL Global Flag Football Ambassador Torry Holt, Carolina Panthers Legends Steve Smith Sr., Mike Rucker and Mike Tolbert, and current Panthers defensive back Jeremy Chinn were in attendance during the three-day international competition.
About USA Football: USA Football is the governing body of American football in the United States, the sole US member of the International Federation of American Football, and a recognized sports organization of the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Its non-profit mission includes designing and delivering premier educational, development, and competitive programs for American football, including tackle and flag football. USA Football is the only organization that selects and organizes men’s and women’s US National Teams in federation-sanctioned international competition.