Is American Football An Olympic Sport? (Interesting Facts About This Classic Game!)

Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Alex PT

American football is not an Olympic sport. It was featured as a demonstration sport in 1932 but has not been included in the official Olympic program since. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) is the governing body for the sport, but it is not yet fully recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Top 5 Reasons Why American Football is Not in the Olympics

Limited Global AppealAmerican football is primarily popular in the US, limiting its global representation.
Lack of International Governing BodyNo single worldwide governing body for the sport.
High Costs and InfrastructureExpensive equipment and facilities are needed.
Injury ConcernsThe physical nature raises safety concerns.
Complex RulesThe intricate rules may be challenging for new viewers.

Why Isn’t American Football And Olympic Sport?

Why Isnt American Football And Olympic Sport

Eligibility Rules

There are some major reasons why this classic game isn’t one of the notable Olympic sports. And that’s what we’ll be talking about shortly. The eligibility rules of the Olympics bind the NFL players who aren’t qualified for IFAF representation. Pro players would have to be qualified for international representation under the guidance of IFAF. 

The International Federation of American Football is an association that’s not too popular but it still exists and functions. But in the last few decades, their activeness hasn’t been good enough as they don’t have enough concept and orientation to make American football an Olympic sport. The NFL hasn’t been really corroborating the IFAF to achieve the desired result of talking American football to the Olympics. 

Although the IFAF tried to take the sport to the 2020 Summer Olympics, they failed as they were rejected. Fortunately, the IFAF later got provisional recognition for the 2024 Olympics. A chance they wouldn’t want to miss as they are working together with the NFL to take football to the 2028 Olympics. 

Lower Popularity Outside America 

One of the reasons why we think American football hasn’t been considered as an Olympic sport is its lower popularity outside North America. Not all developing and developed countries participate in the sport. As a matter of fact, only 80 countries have official recognition for the sport. Most of these non-participating countries think the name “American” at the back of the “football” makes the sport monopolized only by the American citizens. But that’s not the truth as we’ve seen other European countries participate in it. 

Enormous Roster For American Football 

Truth be told, the practicality of the size of the roster required for an American football team is just not fair enough. Just think about it, the normal domestic event is even too large to be pragmatic, not to think of including a large number of countries competing in one single tournament. If there will be any consideration for American football as an Olympic sport, the NFL and IFAF must work together to develop a compressed tournament play just like the rugby7s. 

Problems With Adjudication 

Some of the most notable sports in the world today experience a lot of issues with adjudication. Don’t forget that rugby7s is an Olympic sport with a condensed refereeing system better than normal rugby. If the IFAF and the NFL can develop an open-style tournament game for easy refereeing of American football, then the problem with adjudication will be solved. Also, considering the fact that only a few countries in the world play the game, it would be unfair competition as the USA team would comprise of the best players in the NFL and would likely dominate it. 

The future of American football at the Olympics

The inclusion of American football in the Olympics remains uncertain, but several factors could influence its future:

  1. Global Growth: If American football continues to grow in popularity internationally, it may become more appealing to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Initiatives like the NFL’s international games and youth development programs are steps in this direction.
  2. Standardization: A unified international governing body for American football would be crucial. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has been working towards this, but overcoming internal disputes is essential.
  3. Modified Formats: The inclusion of a modified version of American football, such as flag football or 7-on-7, may be more feasible for the Olympics. These formats are less physically demanding and could reduce injury concerns.
  4. Youth Engagement: Focusing on youth development and encouraging participation in American football at the grassroots level could help build a stronger case for its inclusion.
  5. Broadcasting and Sponsorship: Securing international broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals could generate revenue, making American football more attractive to the IOC.
  6. Rule Simplification: Simplifying the complex rules of American football, making it more accessible to a global audience, would be beneficial.
  7. Safety Measures: Implementing advanced safety measures and technology to reduce the risk of injuries during the games is crucial.
  8. Political Factors: The IOC’s selection of sports is also influenced by politics and global considerations. American football’s inclusion could depend on the priorities of the IOC and host countries.

In conclusion, the future of American football at the Olympics depends on various factors, including its international growth, standardization, modified formats, youth engagement, financial viability, rule simplification, safety measures, and geopolitical dynamics. While it’s uncertain, efforts to address these factors could increase the sport’s chances of Olympic inclusion.

How Has American Football Performed In Other Countries? 

How Has American Football Performed In Other Countries? 

In England, the NFL has been functioning well with regular-season games played in London, but you can’t still compare it with the love of soccer among the citizens. Many of the citizens don’t even want American football to compete with soccer as they love and cherish the game so much. In other countries like Japan, the game didn’t really triumph. Players aren’t skilled and professional enough and it all seems less like the real American football game. 

Will The Sport Make The 2025 Games?

American football has been approved by the United States Olympic Committee to become one of its participating sports. More of the reason why the sport was added to the official list of the USOC in 2015. However, being accepted at the national level doesn’t guarantee that the international committee has accepted it too. It is just a way to show the world that the sport is ready to be included in the forthcoming Olympics. As we said earlier, back in 2014, American football was granted provisional recognition. So, it is likely that the game is featured in the forthcoming Olympic Games. 

Does American Football Have Any International Support? 

American football has been adopted in over 80 countries across the world today with each country having its own semi-professional and professional football league. In terms of international competitions, American football isn’t really recognized worldwide because many believe that competing with the superior American side containing the best players in the NFL won’t be any competition. This had been one of the reasons why the sport hasn’t been really established with the Olympics Sports. 

Has American Football Been To The Olympics Before? 

Yes! College football was featured in the 1904 Olympics for the first time, thanks to the program established in St Louis. Also, in 1932, there was a full West versus East college match-up in the Los Angeles Games, where about 60,000 fans gathered to watch the game. The team of the West claimed the victory as they won the East team 7-6 goals. Unfortunately, the winners weren’t given any specific medal as the game was purely a demonstration of American football as an Olympic sport. 

Closing Thoughts 

We all love the game of football in America, but we just need to lower our hopes of having the game among the Olympic sports. It might happen someday, but not as soon as possible. We’ve come to the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know if American football is an Olympic sport. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!


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