The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has voted to include Flag Football for inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Sport Program. Today's decision follows prior recommendations by the IOC Executive Board, IOC Olympic Program Commission and Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee and concludes a two-year process of evaluation.
For years, the New York Jets have embraced flag football, one of the world's fastest growing sports. The non-contact and gender-equal game is fast, fun, creative and continues to engage youth audiences around the world.
"The IOC's decision for flag football inclusion is one to be celebrated and we are elated about the sport's climb to the Olympics," said team president Hymie Elhai. "Flag football is the embodiment of competition, diversity, and possibility. We couldn't be more thrilled about the IOC's decision."
The Jets have provided thousands of flag football opportunities for boys and girls with the NYC Police Athletic League, Boys and Girls Clubs, NYC Department of Education's CHAMPS after-school program, NYC Parks and Recreation, and hundreds of local elementary and middle schools.
In August, the Jets and Nike recognized three girls high school football championship teams from New Jersey (Ridgewood), Long Island (Planview-Old Bethpage) and New York City (Susan E. Wagner) with a ring ceremony on the field at a preseason game. Launched in 2021, the league began with eight schools from the Super Football Conference in New Jersey. This past year, over 100 high schools from New Jersey, Long Island and Hudson Valley participated in the league. The 2023 season featured over 2,100 athletes competing in over 430 games, culminating in three championship games in June.
"The Jets annually fund thousands of flag football opportunities from youth co-ed to girls high school throughout the tri-state area," said Jesse Linder, the team's vice president of community relations. "Inclusion in the Olympics validates the viability and popularity of the sport. Winning a gold medal in football can now be the dream of every girl and boy playing flag football."
Flag football is played by more than 20 million people, in more than 100 countries. In March, the Jets launched the inaugural NFL Girls Flag Football in the United Kingdom. The league, which ran in April-May, featured 12 teams and 130 girls ages 12-14 participating. The first of its kind competition aimed to overcome barriers in activity and increase access to sport for young girls.
"We believe football is the greatest sport there is — with benefits for athletes on and off the field — and are passionate about seeing its growth," Elhai said. "Flag football makes the game more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. Showcasing flag football at the Olympic level will make the sport visible for millions of additional people and strengthens the pathway to play football at every level."