The Case for Flag Soccer As an Olympic Sport

The Olympics are not like every other sporting competitors on the planet. For 16 days, over 300 occasions representing 35 sports activities and each nation on the planet compete to take residence their prized medals, and I’ve regarded ahead to watching the Summer time Olympics each four years since way back to I can keep in mind. However there’s at all times been one thing lacking. One of many United States hottest sports activities, and a high 10 sport all through the world, it seems to be as if sort out and flag soccer could possibly be Olympic sports activities by the 12 months 2024, however situation obstacles nonetheless stay for that to develop into a actuality. First we’ll stroll by some explanation why the street to getting American Soccer included into the Olympics has not been a straightforward journey, adopted by why we consider flag soccer to be the logical resolution and selection as a future Olympic sport.

WHY ISN’T AMERICAN FOOTBALL ALREADY AN OLYMPIC SPORT?
In accordance with an article by NFL.com, the most important logistical issues going through the game of American Soccer being included within the Olympics are similar to that of Rugby. With the big numbers of members on every staff, the “gender equality” codecs the place each women and men take part in each sport, and the compressed three week schedule that might be powerful with a extra bodily sport like soccer and rugby. Moreover for American Soccer, the barrier to entry is excessive as a consequence of it is value to equip all gamers with pads and kit, and therefor has additionally been sluggish to undertake in lots of international nations, particularly of the poorer selection.

Realizing all this, it is onerous to see how both sport could be a very good match for the Summer time Olympics. Rugby is so much like Soccer in that little or no is required to play the game by way of gear and observe at it is base degree, and has a a lot bigger worldwide following. This amongst different causes has not too long ago allowed Rugby to be cleared for the Olympics beginning in 2016 by altering the normal fashion to a much less conventional “sevens” format which is quicker paced with much less individuals, which might assist carve an analogous path for American Soccer, or flag soccer extra particularly.

TACKLE SAFETY CONCERNS
Even an increasing number of highschool, school and professional groups are beginning to cut back the variety of contact practices, nonetheless sporting the likes of soft-padded headgear and shoulder pads for added safety. However what if we might restrict the contact gamers see earlier than highschool and center faculty whereas additionally addressing a number of the considerations for the game associated to it being absolutely accepted into the Olympics?There’s plenty of discuss not too long ago revolving across the security of sort out soccer, and never simply within the NFL the place concussions are a significant concern. Beginning way back to the youth soccer degree, current proof has surfaced supporting the concept even wanting a concussion, repeated head impacts and collision can manifest in comparable mind accidents later in life for youths examined between the ages of Eight-13. Many researchers are suggesting children should not be taking part in soccer in any respect, suggesting that youngsters’ heads are “a bigger a part of their physique, and their necks aren’t as robust as adults’ necks. So children could also be at a better threat of head and mind accidents than adults.”

DREW BREES BELIEVES FLAG FOOTBALL CAN SAVE FOOTBALL
As of 2015, research present that flag soccer is the quickest rising youth sport in america, tremendously outpacing the expansion of conventional sort out soccer. Many particular person excessive faculties are making the swap to flag soccer over sort out, getting different faculties of their areas to observe go well with creating organized leagues and divisions. It is even an formally acknowledged varsity sport in lots of states, and with girls particularly flag soccer is a approach to enable simpler participation versus the bodily nature of sort out.And he isn’t the one one. Lately Drew Brees was interviewed by Peter King for NBC’s pregame present and had some robust phrases on why he believes flag soccer is the reply. “I really feel like flag soccer can save soccer,” Brees mentioned. Brees coaches his son’s flag soccer staff, and performed flag soccer himself by junior excessive, by no means taking part in sort out soccer till highschool. “I really feel like (flag soccer) is a good introductory methodology for lots of children into soccer,” Brees talked about. “In any other case I really feel it is very straightforward to go in and have a nasty expertise early on after which not wish to ever play it once more. I really feel like as soon as you set the pads on there are simply so many different components to the sport, and also you’re on the mercy of the coach in plenty of instances too. And to be trustworthy, I do not suppose sufficient coaches are well-versed sufficient regarding the true fundamentals of the sport particularly when the pads go on on the youth degree.” Many different professional athletes and coaches have expressed comparable sentiments as effectively, singing praises for the game of flag soccer, and the rise in recognition of the game echoes that.

Flag soccer is not a fluke or only a leisure growth device that feeds into sort out soccer, it is a full-fledged motion that has it is personal id and objective and it is time we acknowledged that distinction.

Internationally it’s gaining recognition as effectively, a lot sooner it appears than conventional American soccer the place the barrier to entry is way greater with the necessity for full pads and kit. In Mexico for example, flag soccer is booming in recognition, the place most contemplate it to be the #2 sport to soccer and shutting quick, with and estimated 2.5 million children collaborating simply on the elementary faculty degree. Worldwide groups are beginning to make the journey to a number of the extra fashionable American flag soccer tournaments, with illustration from Panama, Indonesia, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada and extra a standard incidence.

In all places you look, participation and curiosity within the sport flag soccer is exploding.

At an grownup degree, it was a report 12 months for the game of flag soccer. New main tournaments are popping up internationally, seeing hundreds of groups competing throughout all age teams, codecs and types. Money prizes have been at an all time excessive, anticipated to eclipse over $100,000 in staff giveaways within the subsequent calendar 12 months. Sponsors have began taking discover as effectively, with the likes of EA Sports activities, Nerf, Resorts.com, Pink Bull and different main manufacturers seeing the worth and development from flag soccer as a approach to successfully attain their audience in massive numbers. Girls’s participation is at an all-time excessive as effectively, mirroring it is recognition on the youth degree, and is the popular format of play for American soccer in most Central to South American nations.

So how does this all lead again to the Olympics and getting American soccer included as an official sport? First, let’s overview somewhat historical past on the place the game stands at this time with the Worldwide Olympic Committee, or IOC.

Traditionally, To be able to be included into the Olympic video games as an illustration sport, you need to have an Worldwide Federation and have held a World Championship competitors. This should happen a minimal of 6 years earlier than a scheduled Olympic video games. The Worldwide Federation of American Soccer, primarily targeted on sort out soccer however contains flag in it is event lineup, met this commonplace and was accepted in 2012, and gained provisional recognition in 2014. This might pave the best way for American soccer to be included as an official sport, and flag soccer as presumably a self-discipline of mentioned sport, nonetheless the IFAF has since confronted setbacks as a consequence of alleged scandal, occasion mismanagement and misappropriation of funds that can’t bode effectively for the sports activities inclusion quick time period. Happily in 2007 the IOC adopted a brand new, extra versatile rule set permitting packages to be up for overview after each Olympics beginning in 2020, clearing a path for all sports activities to current their case for being included by profitable a easy majority vote.

So the chance is there for American soccer to be included in probably the most prestigious sporting occasion all over the world, however how can we overcome the obstacles introduced by the construction of the game to suit the mildew of a profitable Olympic sporting occasion?

FLAG FOOTBALL IS THE KEY TO OLYMPIC INCLUSION
For each method sort out soccer would not match the mildew as a logical selection for the IOC, there’s flag soccer. Listed here are the highest four causes flag soccer ought to be thought of to be included as the following Olympic sport.

1. It is Much less Bodily Demanding than Deal with Soccer

As we have already established, flag soccer is a a lot safer various than sort out soccer. Much less hits and collisions equal fewer accidents, and flag soccer is already a confirmed success mannequin that is being praised for preserving the sport for future generations. However in relation to the Summer time Olympic Video games, security is only one facet of the bodily calls for of the game, contemplating you might have lower than a three week window to slot in all ranges of competitors, and the year-round exercise wanted to observe and qualify. Think about taking part in 6-7 full contact soccer video games with a restricted roster all inside a span of ~16 days, to not point out different potential qualifying occasions all year long. For flag soccer, it is not unusual to play 6-7 video games in a weekend or generally even a day, so the game is greater than geared up for this fashion of event play.

2. Worldwide Flag Soccer Curiosity is Exploding

As talked about above, it is a main situation when figuring out whether or not a sport is match to be thought of, and whereas conventional American fashion sort out soccer is extraordinarily fashionable worldwide as effectively, flag soccer appeals to extra nations. It is a decrease barrier to entry so far as value and gear go, do not require full size and striped soccer fields to take part, and is less complicated to carry bigger event competitions and leagues to encourage native curiosity.

three. It Requires Fewer Individuals

Relying on which format could be used (our guess is both 5v5 or 7v7), flag soccer requires far fewer members than conventional sort out soccer. A part of this is because of it being a much less bodily demanding sport and the necessity for much less substitutions, and one other half is because of needing much less specialist gamers, similar to kickers, punters, particular groups, offensive lineman, and many others. The place every conventional sort out soccer staff would in all probability carry 50+ rivals, flag soccer would want in all probability 15 gamers at most, reducing that quantity to lower than a 3rd. That is necessary as a result of the Olympics cap their whole members to 10,500 athletes and coaches. It additionally once more permits extra nations to compete, particularly poorer nations, the place fielding a smaller and fewer financially demanding staff coupled with the explanations above makes extra sense.

four. It is Not Only a Males’s Sport

Gender equality is a significant emphasis for the IOC. The 2012 Summer time Olympics marked the primary time all sports activities included competing girls of their class. At this time, any new sport that’s added to the Olympic Video games should embody each female and male members. For sort out soccer, there’s simply not practically sufficient curiosity from girls participators for it to make sense. Whereas there are some feminine gamers, and even some feminine sort out soccer leagues and organizations, it simply would not match the mildew, particularly with the opposite points regarding physicality and barrier to entry. For flag soccer this isn’t an issue as detailed above, with feminine participation booming internationally.

NEXT STEPS FOR FLAG FOOTBALL AND OLYMPIC INCLUSION
So how can we take the following steps to trip the momentum of flag soccer straight into the following out there Olympic video games? The IFAF has already helped start the method of getting the game of American Soccer in entrance of the IOC in recent times, however with their public points and seemingly no motion since 2014 extra must be completed to maintain shifting ahead. What we do know is that flag soccer is being taken critically in any respect ranges for actually the primary time in historical past, with main organizations making strikes to get extra into the flag soccer area and the creation of larger and extra worldwide occasions to gas the game. We consider that both on it is personal, or as a self-discipline of sort out soccer, flag soccer WILL be included within the Olympics at some degree within the subsequent 10-20 years.

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