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 dwelling their prized medals, and I’ve regarded ahead to watching the Summer time Olympics each four years since way back to I can bear in mind. However there’s all the time been one thing lacking. One of many United States hottest sports activities, and a prime 10 sport all through the world, it appears as if sort out and flag soccer might be Olympic sports activities by the yr 2024, however situation obstacles nonetheless stay for that to develop into a actuality. First we’ll stroll by some the reason 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 keeping with an article by NFL.com, the largest logistical issues dealing with the game of American Soccer being included within the Olympics are similar to that of Rugby. With the big numbers of contributors 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 recreation like soccer and rugby. Moreover for American Soccer, the barrier to entry is excessive resulting from it is value to equip all gamers with pads and kit, and therefor has additionally been gradual to undertake in lots of international nations, particularly of the poorer selection.

Understanding all this, it is laborious to see how both sport could be a very good match for the Summer time Olympics. Rugby is quite a bit like Soccer in that little or no is required to play the game by way of gear and follow at it is base degree, and has a a lot bigger worldwide following. This amongst different causes has lately allowed Rugby to be cleared for the Olympics beginning in 2016 by altering the standard type to a much less conventional “sevens” format which is quicker paced with much less folks, which might assist carve an identical path for American Soccer, or flag soccer extra particularly.

TACKLE SAFETY CONCERNS
Even an increasing number of highschool, faculty 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 college whereas additionally addressing a number of the considerations for the game associated to it being totally accepted into the Olympics?There’s a number of discuss lately revolving across the security of sort out soccer, and never simply within the NFL the place concussions are a serious concern. Beginning way back to the youth soccer degree, current proof has surfaced supporting the concept that even in need of a concussion, repeated head impacts and collision can manifest in related mind accidents later in life for youths examined between the ages of Eight-13. Many researchers are suggesting children should not be enjoying soccer in any respect, suggesting that youngsters’ heads are “a bigger a part of their physique, and their necks are usually not as robust as adults’ necks. So children could also be at a larger 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, vastly outpacing the expansion of conventional sort out soccer. Many particular person excessive colleges are making the swap to flag soccer over sort out, getting different colleges of their areas to comply with swimsuit creating organized leagues and divisions. It is even an formally acknowledged varsity sport in lots of states, and with ladies particularly flag soccer is a solution to permit simpler participation versus the bodily nature of sort out.And he isn’t the one one. Not too long ago 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 stated. Brees coaches his son’s flag soccer staff, and performed flag soccer himself by junior excessive, by no means enjoying sort out soccer till highschool. “I really feel like (flag soccer) is a superb introductory technique for lots of children into soccer,” Brees talked about. “In any other case I really feel it’s totally simple 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 a number of circumstances too. And to be sincere, 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 related 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 improvement instrument that feeds into sort out soccer, it is a full-fledged motion that has it is personal id and goal and it is time we acknowledged that distinction.

Internationally it’s gaining recognition as effectively, a lot quicker it appears than conventional American soccer the place the barrier to entry is way increased with the necessity for full pads and kit. In Mexico as an example, flag soccer is booming in recognition, the place most take into account it to be the #2 sport to soccer and shutting quick, with and estimated 2.5 million children collaborating simply on the elementary college degree. Worldwide groups are beginning to make the journey to a number of the extra popular American flag football tournaments, with illustration from Panama, Indonesia, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada and extra a typical prevalence.

All over the place you look, participation and curiosity within the sport flag soccer is exploding.

At an grownup degree, it was a document yr for the game of flag soccer. New main tournaments are popping up internationally, seeing 1000’s of groups competing throughout all age teams, codecs and kinds. Money prizes have been at an all time excessive, anticipated to eclipse over $100,000 in staff giveaways within the subsequent calendar yr. Sponsors have began taking discover as effectively, with the likes of EA Sports activities, Nerf, Motels.com, Pink Bull and different main manufacturers seeing the worth and development from flag soccer as a solution to successfully attain their target market in giant numbers. Ladies’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 a little bit historical past on the place the game stands in the present day with the Worldwide Olympic Committee, or IOC.

Traditionally, So as to be included into the Olympic video games as an indication sport, it’s important 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 centered on sort out soccer however contains flag in it is event lineup, met this commonplace and was permitted 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 probably a self-discipline of stated sport, nevertheless the IFAF has since confronted setbacks resulting from alleged scandal, occasion mismanagement and misappropriation of funds that can’t bode effectively for the sports activities inclusion brief time period. Luckily in 2007 the IOC adopted a brand new, extra versatile rule set permitting applications 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 successful 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 will we overcome the obstacles offered by the construction of the game to suit the mould of a profitable Olympic sporting occasion?

FLAG FOOTBALL IS THE KEY TO OLYMPIC INCLUSION
For each means sort out soccer would not match the mould as a logical alternative for the IOC, there’s flag soccer. Listed here are the highest four causes flag soccer needs to be thought-about 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 the case of the Summer time Olympic Video games, security is only one facet of the bodily calls for of the game, contemplating you may have lower than a three week window to slot in all ranges of competitors, and the year-round exercise wanted to follow and qualify. Think about enjoying 6-7 full contact soccer video games with a restricted roster all inside a span of ~16 days, to not point out different doable qualifying occasions all year long. For flag soccer, it isn’t unusual to play 6-7 video games in a weekend or typically even a day, so the game is greater than geared up for this type 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-about, and whereas conventional American type 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 tools go, do not require full size and striped soccer fields to take part, and is simpler 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 contributors 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 most likely carry 50+ rivals, flag soccer would wish most likely 15 gamers at most, slicing that quantity to lower than a 3rd. That is necessary as a result of the Olympics cap their whole contributors 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 serious emphasis for the IOC. The 2012 Summer time Olympics marked the primary time all sports activities included competing ladies of their class. At present, any new sport that’s added to the Olympic Video games should embody each female and male contributors. For sort out soccer, there may be simply not practically sufficient curiosity from ladies 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 mould, 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 will we take the following steps to journey the momentum of flag soccer straight into the following accessible Olympic video games? The IFAF has already helped start the method of getting the game of American Soccer in entrance of the IOC lately, however with their public points and seemingly no motion since 2014 extra must be accomplished to maintain transferring ahead. What we do know is that flag soccer is being taken severely 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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