Peak Performance in Sports

In the sports arena, peak performance in sports has always been a much sought after state by players and coaches of all levels. Whether the athletes are school boys soccer players or Olympians striving for their Gold medals, peak performance in sports has always attracted athletes and coaches alike. In our modern age of sports, where sports science is at a stratospheric level and rising, what are the factors that when applied correctly can lead sports participants to peak performance in sports? Are there secrets to sporting excellence? Are these factors easily manipulated for the benefits of the athletes? This article discusses the factors that can lead athletes and coaches to peak performance in sports.

There has been many articles and books detailing principles, programs, success factors and the like that can lead to peak performance in sports. Many authors have written at length about them and in many ways, the principles and factors are universal. The principles of progressive resistance, variety, goal specific training, recovery, etc are all undisputed underlying reasons that allows athletes to achieve peak performance in sports. This article goes a step further by exploring these universal factors in a different light. In the process, I hope to give athletes and coaches alike how to practically apply these principles and which are the factors with higher weightage in terms of achieving success and peak performance in sports.

There are basically two set of factors we need to look into. Technical and human factors. Let us take a look at the former set of factors first;

Technical Factors

1. Quality Preparation
2. Mastering Individual Skills
3. High Fitness Levels
4. Understanding Overall Team Play
5. Filling Up Key Positions of the Team
6. Minimise Errors in Games

1. Quality Preparation

The hard work for any sports season begins with the preseason training which is very intensive. No body likes this season, as the work and training required is often very boring and painful. But this has to be done for the athletes to be optimally prepared for the rigours of the competitive phase. The endurance, strength, speed and skill volumes must be done. Not just the volume of work, but how much quality is put into the preparation phase is vital as well. When players cut corners and put in training at face value without their heart and soul, it will show up later in the competition as fatigue, injuries or lack of sharpness in their performance. Peak performance in sports cannot be possible under such circumstances. The quality of preseason preparation is even more important in youth sports.

Very often in schools, the playing seasons for many sports start almost immediately when the school year starts. With our children away for long vacations, our athletes very often return to school to face competitions with very little training time. Team play, fitness building and mental preparation are supposed to be done in 2-3 weeks, which in a sports world is almost impossible and impractical. This kind of preparation is also detrimental to the development of our children. Under these circumstances, coaches and teachers (and parents if possible) have a very important responsibility to ensure that our athletes are well prepared for competition. Training programmes for sports ought to be drawn up and implemented at year’s end previously. Our athletes need to understand that that their season effectively began when their examinations are over. With a training programme started, coaches and teachers can than instruct athletes about a vacation training programme as well. Each athlete should have one whereby, they can do something to improve their playing abilities during their break away from school. It could include things like maintain a certain standard of fitness through endurance activities like cycling, running or swimming, playing catch and pitching in the backyard with their siblings, or even individual practices to improve certain skills. The main thing here is to preserve and improve what has been attained in the preceding season, so that athletes do not return back to school and start from scratch. Simply planning and training this way will ensure quality preparation for the sports teams to attain peak performance in sports later.

2. Mastering Individual Skills

In all sports and games, there are certain skill sets and skills that are considered basic and necessary. These must be achieved by athletes before they can play at a higher level later. In basketball, dribbling and executing a proper lay-up are crucial. Throwing, catching and fielding skills are a must in baseball and softball. The push-pass and receiving a pass are necessary skills in hockey and floor ball. The list goes on. In preseason training, or at the earliest playing stage, these essential skills must be made known to our young players, and all efforts and time must be spent on mastering these basic skills. Without these skills, a coach will find it very difficult to execute more complex team plays to achieve peak performance in sports. If strikers cannot even control a long pass from a teammate, how can we expect the same player to hold up the ball well up field against oppositions defenders and execute lay-off passed to oncoming teammates in support. It will be wise for coaches to develop these skills early and also for players to keep improving themselves in these skills even though they might feel that they are good enough already.

Even at professional levels, these basic skills for their sports is important for peak performance in sports. The repertoire of skills required and the intensity of how these skills are performed at the highest levels are even more acute. At the highest levels where opponents are very evenly match in all areas, one mistake can often result in a win or loss. It is even more important for professionals to master all the skills required of the game or sports. Only under such intense conditions can peak performance in sports be possible.

3. High Fitness Levels

At high school levels, many athletes would not have reached their maximal physical development yet no matter how much they train. Physiologically speaking, the development in this area in youths is very varied. Some children reach a high fitness standard faster than others, while others have body types that will only respond to training optimally when they get older. Hence, it can be assumed that a team with the fittest group of players will have the most advantage. No matter how skillful your opponents are, if you are fitter than him or her, you will be able to overcome your lack of fitness by reacting rapidly to overcome your short fall. Let’s say, you are out dribbled by a more skillful opponent in soccer. But if you are fitter than your opponent who have just out-dribbled you, you will be able to track back fast enough to cover your position again. This edge in fitness for youth is very important at the later stages of the game too, as players tend to tire faster at this age. A fitter team will definitely be able to prevail and score more later in the game. Players at this age need to be convinced of this need for fitness, and be encouraged to do whatever they can to attain the highest level of fitness possible.

How about professionals? Without a doubt, professional athletes are expected to possess fitness at the highest levels. If they are not, their opponents will be and consequently, they will outperform them and reach their peak performance in sports. Generally speaking, professional sportsmen know how to get into great shape and maintain that till the end of the season. Their physical bodies are also in the best state to be developed to their fullest potential.

4. Understanding Overall Team Play

The next factor of great importance in achieving peak performance in sports is understanding the overall team play by the players. Imagine a coach telling his charges to clear the balls down the flanks in any invasion game. You will be surprise how many players actually understand why they are told to do this. More often than not, the players will just do what is required or told by the coaches. The understanding behind their action is very often very little. They might not know that by playing the ball down the flanks or wing, it actually forces the opponents defence to spread wider, thus leaving more gaps in the middle for the attacker to exploit subsequently. Another statistically advantage is that plays down the flanks generally result in the attacker getting the ball back if it is knocked out of bound. That is why, you often hear players or coaches shouting to their charges to ‘throw it down the line’. Young players love the direct route to goal and very often that means playing through the middle. Whatever is taught in tactics to the players, coaches must make every effort to explain and make sure that all the players understand the tactical significance of their plays. This form of coaching if done properly, makes the players better players and improve their decision making on the pitch. And we are always looking for more thinking players in our pitch which will give the team a higher chance of achieving peak performance in sports.

5. Filling Up Key Positions of the Team

The fifth factor that can produce peak performance in sports is actually finding the right players to fill up the most key positions of the team first. In any sport teams, there will be key positions that must be filled first. The point guard in a basketball team is the driver of the team. he controls all plays. A centre in ice-hockey is pivot in both defense and attack, hence he must be the best and fittest and most abled player. The catcher in baseball is the key man, as he dictates and calls the pitches, and also sees the entire fielding situation. These key positions must be filled first, even if it means fielding someone out of position. I use to have a very talented and strong striker who loves to score goals. Unfortunately, I also have a big gap in goal-keeping and he happens to be the best handler of balls in the team. After much persuasion and sacrifice, he finally converted to a goal-keeper. Thanks to his selfless act, the team did extremely well as very few goals were scored against us. It was not easy to make this move. But as the coach than, I felt that the goal-keeper is too important a player to let any Tom, Dick or Harry player, hence it must be the best. These result was the least number of silly errors from our goal-keeping department and that gave the team a much better chance to win games.This brings us to the last technical factor that influence peak performance in sports – making fewest errors.

6. Minimise Errors in Games

In sports these days, errors often decide the outcome of the game. Errors will be more plentiful at youth and children levels. The fact that children are playing at lower technical and tactical levels makes it inevitable that errors will be made. The team that makes the fewest errors in any game will generally perform at their peak. Its a mentality that must be drilled into players to make the fewest error individually as well as as a team. If you do not believe this, watch your next game with a watchful eye over how goals or points are scored. More often than not, you will realize that a goal started from an error from the opponents somewhere. Or a point or run is a result of some players fumbling the ball. Making many silly errors will not lead a team to peak performance in sports. A team that is doing well makes the fewest errors. So coaches, make sure you train your players to understand this and do the right things in the game. Show them evidence through videos or live games, and they will be convinced that the team with the fewest errors win games and peak in their sports performance.

So far we have discussed the technical factors that will lead your team to peak performance in sports. Coaches and players must make sure that these factors are well looked into to ensure that your teams will attain peak performance in sports. Otherwise, it will be a waste of effort and time no matter how talented the team and players are.

In trying to achieve peak performance in sports, human factors are also very important. Understand and master these factors, and success and peak performance in sports is almost a sure thing. But very often these factors are often the hardest to achieved. Here we are drawing on the qualities of human beings to excel in different areas in order for them to reach their peak performance in sports. Very often, these qualities form the foundation of all athletic performances in sports. The players and coaches will find mastering these factors most difficult because we are dealing with intangible elements of human nature. Its easy to improve on your pitching skills, but to improve team spirit it has a lot more to do with just practicing a skill.

Fortunately, we only need to focus on two human factors here in order to achieve peak performance in sports.

Human Factors

1. Players’ Dedication and Commitment 2. Team Work and Team Spirit

The first factor deals with having dedicated and committed players. This is very much an individual player factor, but it is also the coach’s responsibility to reap the highest commitment and dedication from each player. We all know that every player is different, hence it requires different strategies to motivate different players. For some players, simply setting goals, both team and individual goals, will suffice because maybe the players themselves are already intrinsically motivated. For players with poor motivation and a star attitude, some form of carrot and stick methods might be required to get the most out of them. Whatever the strategies, failure to get the highest commitment and dedication from players will mean that training and match play will not be optimum thus resulting in poorer peak performance in sports.

The second human factor that leads to peak performance in sports is team work and team spirit. When a team is able to work together to a level whereby players’ understanding is so good, than the team will have reach the ultimate potential. Not just will tactical plays be good all round, but the effort to play for each other in the team will be so high that the level of satisfaction and sacrifice will be so immense that team play will improve. Players are willing to run and cover for each other more, and there is almost a magical factor in the team play. Team effectiveness will improve. Players will not be playing for selfish reasons but rather for the common team goals. History provides wonderful elements for us to see team work in action. Very often, it was not teams with the most skills that won the competitions, but rather, the teams with the greatest team spirit and team work, When players are willing to set aside personal differences to play for greater team goals. In Euro 2004, Greece was not the team with the greatest fair or skills,but they still won, because the coach was able to mold a team of seemingly nobody into a cohesive unit that was willing to play hard for each other.

Training and reaching peak performance in sports is very often the dreams and aspirations of many coaches and players. At all levels of sports, from high school to professional, all athletes and their coaches want to achieve their peak performance in sports. It is a inner desire of human to succeed and be the best. Being the best requires not just skill, but also certain technical and human factors that can be manipulated for the benefits of achieving peak performance in sports. These factors are important for any sports fans striving for peak performance in sports.

Is the Sports Betting Champ For Real?

Like many people, I like to place a friendly wager on sporting events from time to time. I love to watch games, but there’s something about placing bets on the games that really adds some extra excitement to game day. I found a product that makes game day even more fun, Sports Betting Champ software, but am concerned that some people may think this is a scam. Those who say the Sports Betting Champ scam is real will tell you that it’s impossible for a system that claims accuracy in predicting the results of 97% of games to not be a scam. Yet those who have used the system will attest to its results. If you are wondering how accurate the claims that this software makes, you simply need to invest some time researching the software.

I personally have used this software, and I can tell you that the Sports Betting Champ scam claims are bogus. This software was designed by a statistics expert, John Morrison. John Morrison holds a PhD from Cornell, and has dedicated years perfecting his system. When you have this kind of expert knowledge and research going into a project like Sports Betting Champ, you have to come to the realization that there is a great deal of valid logic and reasoning that is included in this system.

John Morrison is careful to keep the secrets of his betting system under wraps. This is understandable, because if he released details about his system to the world, you can bet there would be copycats who would steal his ideas and claim these innovative ideas and strategies are their own. But just because the details of the system are a secret does not mean that the Sports Betting Champ scam is legitimate.

It’s understandable to believe that the claims that 97% of the bets placed with Sports Betting Champ will be money-winners is a bogus claim. But you really need to research the software before believing the Sports Betting Champ scam nay-sayers. This betting software does not provide bets for all of the over 2,400 games played in the regular sports season. Instead, it will select from among the lowest risk games of the season and select a winner of these games. Simply by eliminating higher risk bets from its calculations and predictions, the system is increasing its odds of selecting accurate winners. This is not taken into account by those who say the Sports Betting Champ scam is legit.

If you still aren’t buying into the fact that the Sports Betting Champ scam is not a scam at all, you can always try the software program yourself like I did. I have enjoyed amazing results from the software, which has made my game day sports watching all the more fun. The system comes with a 60-day money back guarantee so there is really no statistical risk in making a bet on this software. If you don’t like it, you can return with no financial loss. So you really have nothing to lose by trying it out for yourself!

Title IX – Sports

The interpretation of Title IX in sports and education is surrounded by controversy. Title IX was designed with the intention of ensuring equality in sports between men and women. While it seems apparent that some sort of equalizing mechanism is necessary, there has been quite a bit of controversy in education regarding the interpretation of Title IX. Sports in particular contain many examples where Title IX has led to the end of college sports teams – all in a misconstrued attempt of equalizing sports for both sexes.

Rod Paige, the Education Secretary, established the Commission on Opportunity in athletics in mid 2002. COA as the commission is abbreviated is tasked with ensuring fairness for all athletes in college by finding ways of better enforcement and increased opportunities for the beneficiaries. COA’s main purpose was to gather information, have it analyzed and get input from the public with the aim of making the application of Federal Standards used in ensuring that men and women, Boys together with girls have equal opportunity and their involvement in athletics.

In the COA’s management was Cynthia Cooper together with Ted Leland who served with Rod Paige as co-chairs. Cynthia, a former player with the Houston Comets, coached WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and was a member of the women’s basketball team in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. Leland is Stanford University’s athletics director.

COA held 4 meeting in town halls in San Diego, Atlanta, Colorado Springs and Chicago. The aim of these meetings was to give the public a chance to put across their comments on Title IX at that time, in the past and the future. The beginning of 2003 saw the commission give its final report. In the report were 23 recommendations to the Education Secretary. Many of the recommendations were unanimous but the controversial ones saw an 8-5 vote pass them. The controversial votes were dealing with the compliance of athletes with no scholarship to 1st prong test together with the allowance of interest surveys for 3rd prong test compliance determination. Rod Paige however, declared that he would only consider the votes that were unanimously passed. These required the Education Department to:

* Show its continued and unwavering support to ensure that boys and girls, women plus men have equal opportunity.
* Ensure uniform enforcement of the statute across the US.
* Ensure that each of the 3 tests that governed compliance to the statute had equal weighting.
* Make sure that schools appreciate that the Education Department was not for the idea of cutting teams so as to adhere to the statute (Title IX, 2008).

Patsy T. Mink principally authored the education act that guarantees all people equal opportunity to education. The Act which was formulated in 1972 was formerly known as the Title IX of the Education Amendments and it generally states that nobody should be prevented from enjoying the benefits of a given education program or a given activity that has financial assistance from the Federal government based on their sex. Title IX greatest impact has been on athletics at both high school and college level although the original statute did not refer to athletics. The statute has a broad coverage from educational activities, complaints because of discrimination in math, science education, other academic life aspects for instance ability to use dormitory and other health care facilities. The same state is applicable to activities like cheer leaders, clubs and school bands, which are non-sport activities. The statute’s requirements however exempt sororities together with social fraternities like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Boys State together with Girls State, which are specific to gender (Title IX, 2008).

The administration under Jimmy Carter came up with an interpretation of the statute when the Health, Education and Welfare Department came up with a “3 prong test” of compliance for institutions in the late 70’s. The three prongs are as shown below:

* 1st prong-that athletic opportunities provided be in proportion to the number of students enrolled or
* 2nd prong- exhibit increased athletic opportunities for the sex that is under represented or
* 3rd prong- the underrepresented sex interest together with ability should be accommodated wholly and effectively.
To demonstrate adherence to Title IX any institution that is a beneficiary of federal funds should show compliance with any of the three prongs (Title IX, 2008).

The Federal Government has issued new guidelines regarding the implementation of Title IX. Title IX has made it possible for increased women participation in sports but the new guidelines have allowed schools to reduce athletic opportunities if they find out from Internet surveys that the students are uninterested.

However, critics have been quick to point out that these new guidelines have significantly weakened the law that has been in place for the last 33 years, which had outlawed discrimination based on sex in schools that were recipients of federal funds.

According to the new guidelines, the Education Department has allowed schools to show that they are offering opportunities by asking the students to fill a form over the Internet to show their interest in sports. The schools are free to notify the students of a survey through e-mail. In the event that the surveys get few responses, the schools can still go a head and use the limited responses to argue against the formation of new teams in a given sport of the gender that is not properly represented. On its part the Department of Education agreed to the fact that response level may be low but continued to state that that will be interpreted as disinterest by the gender in question.

Chaundry voiced concern saying students may actually fail to open such an e-mail. However, not everybody was against the new guidelines as the director of the College Sports Council, Eric Pearson stated that the new guidelines were a good alternative to the gender quota. He continued to add that it would be easier for colleges together with schools to argue their case in court if they have fewer women in a given athletic program compared to the total number of students in the school or college. The rule has had controversies especially in some schools where less practiced men’s sports say, wrestling, had to be scrapped off to balance out the number of women and men participating in athletics considering the total number of students in the school or college.

Well, many people will argue that Title IX has been good for women’s sports. Largely that is true but what has been the price for that? The law was based on the premise that universities that received federal funding could not use sex as means of discrimination. However, by trying to solve the problem of fewer women involvement in sports, Title IX has actually discriminated against men! This topic has been discussed a number of times before: The Health, Education and Welfare Department made it a requirement for schools to ensure that sports selection together with the level of competition accommodated the abilities and interests of both sexes.

This most probably is not a surprise; men show greater interest in sports than women similar to the way boys show less interest in the drill team than girls do. Some colleges have had a hard time trying to find enough women to be involved in sports. To show this more clearly, a wrestling coach explained it this way, with 1000 boys interested in a given sport and 100 girls interested in the same sport, you will end up with 100 boys together with 100 girls getting the opportunity. This raises many questions. This issue of proportionality is so strict that even without a scholarship playing for a given team is impossible because the numbers will not even out.

The Civil Rights Office put this strictness in proportionality in place in 1979. The original law however, clearly states that Title IX should not be taken to mean that one gender should be discriminated against in the event that there is an imbalance in the number of people from the two sexes participating in a given sport. Therefore, even with the benefits that the law has brought to the sporting arena it has led to discrimination against men especially in commonly known (erroneously) as minor sports.

Football
The past couple of years have seen significant advances in gender and racial equality. Pay differentials between members of various races has been under study for many years. Gender discrimination and low minority representation in head coaching positions under the auspices of Title IX has been a matter of great discussion. This website would like to provide you with summaries of abstracts, examinations of academic literature and top media articles, etc showing the disintegration of coaches together with players in top professional sports leagues due to racism.

Many people continue to wonder whether the football in this country is institutionally racist, as the generations of the past had to contend with racism in the NFL. Out of the two hundred and seventy six coaching and management positions in professional football only a paltry six people are black. About twenty-two percent players are African American, but only two percent are in management. The good part however is that the management has recognized that there is actually a problem that needs their attention. The premier league, Football Association, League Manager’s Association together with the Football League have come together with PFA. They agree that there is an urgent need to find any aspects of the selection criteria that may be discriminating against blacks so that in future positions are filled on merit only.

It is well known that Title IX is aimed at ensuring equality of women athletes with their male counterparts in the various sports. However, there is more than just the sports; there is drama, other extra curricular activities, band etc.

Thus for the athletic programs, these are the requirements of Title IX:

* Women and men should have similar opportunities in sports
* Women should receive funding/scholarship that is equivalent or in line with their participation- this can be found in the W omen’s Sports Foundation.
* Women should get similar benefits to men. These include coaching, practice facilities, travel and allowance, etc.

Title IX is was designed to promote equality in sports between men and women. It is helpful to have some sort of equalizing force in place; however, there are many problems with how courts interpret Title IX. Title IX has created quite a bit of controversy in education, and particularly in sports. There are many instances where Title IX has led to the end of certain college sports teams. It is time to correct the loopholes and illogical fractions of Title IX.

The Case for Flag Football As an Olympic Sport

The Olympics are unlike any other sporting competition on the planet. For 16 days, over 300 events representing 35 sports and every country on the planet compete to take home their prized medals, and I have looked forward to watching the Summer Olympics every 4 years since as far back as I can remember. But there’s always been something missing. One of the United States most popular sports, and a top 10 sport throughout the world, it looks as though tackle and flag football could be Olympic sports by the year 2024, but issue obstacles still remain for that to become a reality. First we’ll walk through some reasons why the road to getting American Football included into the Olympics has not been an easy journey, followed by why we believe flag football to be the logical solution and choice as a future Olympic sport.

WHY ISN’T AMERICAN FOOTBALL ALREADY AN OLYMPIC SPORT?
According to an article by NFL.com, the biggest logistical problems facing the sport of American Football being included in the Olympics are very similar to that of Rugby. With the large numbers of participants on each team, the “gender equality” formats where both men and women participate in every sport, and the compressed 3 week schedule that would be tough with a more physical game like football and rugby. Furthermore for American Football, the barrier to entry is high due to it’s cost to equip all players with pads and gear, and therefor has also been slow to adopt in many foreign countries, especially of the poorer variety.

Knowing all this, it’s hard to see how either sport would be a good fit for the Summer Olympics. Rugby is a lot like Soccer in that very little is needed to play the sport in terms of gear and practice at it’s base level, and has a much larger international following. This among other reasons has recently allowed Rugby to be cleared for the Olympics starting in 2016 by changing the traditional style to a less traditional “sevens” format which is faster paced with less people, which could help carve a similar path for American Football, or flag football more specifically.

TACKLE SAFETY CONCERNS
Even more and more high school, college and pro teams are starting to reduce the number of contact practices, still sporting the likes of soft-padded headgear and shoulder pads for added protection. But what if we could limit the contact players see before high school and middle school while also addressing some of the concerns for the sport related to it being fully accepted into the Olympics?There’s a lot of talk recently revolving around the safety of tackle football, and not just in the NFL where concussions are a major concern. Starting as far back as the youth football level, recent evidence has surfaced supporting the idea that even short of a concussion, repeated head impacts and collision can manifest in similar brain injuries later in life for kids tested between the ages of 8-13. Many researchers are suggesting kids shouldn’t be playing football at all, suggesting that kids’ heads are “a larger part of their body, and their necks are not as strong as adults’ necks. So kids may be at a greater risk of head and brain injuries than adults.”

DREW BREES BELIEVES FLAG FOOTBALL CAN SAVE FOOTBALL
As of 2015, studies show that flag football is the fastest growing youth sport in the United States, greatly outpacing the growth of traditional tackle football. Many individual high schools are making the switch to flag football over tackle, getting other schools in their regions to follow suit creating organized leagues and divisions. It’s even an officially recognized varsity sport in many states, and with women especially flag football is a way to allow easier participation versus the physical nature of tackle.And he’s not the only one. Recently Drew Brees was interviewed by Peter King for NBC’s pregame show and had some strong words on why he believes flag football is the answer. “I feel like flag football can save football,” Brees said. Brees coaches his son’s flag football team, and played flag football himself through junior high, never playing tackle football until high school. “I feel like (flag football) is a great introductory method for a lot of kids into football,” Brees mentioned. “Otherwise I feel it’s very easy to go in and have a bad experience early on and then not want to ever play it again. I feel like once you put the pads on there are just so many other elements to the game, and you’re at the mercy of the coach in a lot of cases too. And to be honest, I don’t think enough coaches are well-versed enough in regards to the true fundamentals of the game especially when the pads go on at the youth level.” Many other pro athletes and coaches have expressed similar sentiments as well, singing praises for the sport of flag football, and the rise in popularity of the sport echoes that.

Flag football isn’t a fluke or just a recreational development tool that feeds into tackle football, it’s a full-fledged movement that has it’s own identity and purpose and it’s time we recognized that distinction.

Internationally it is gaining popularity as well, much faster it seems than traditional American football where the barrier to entry is much higher with the need for full pads and gear. In Mexico for instance, flag football is booming in popularity, where most consider it to be the #2 sport to soccer and closing fast, with and estimated 2.5 million kids participating just at the elementary school level. International teams are starting to make the trip to some of the more popular American flag football tournaments, with representation from Panama, Indonesia, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada and more a common occurrence.

Everywhere you look, participation and interest in the sport flag football is exploding.

At an adult level, it was a record year for the sport of flag football. New major tournaments are popping up across the world, seeing thousands of teams competing across all age groups, formats and styles. Cash prizes have been at an all time high, expected to eclipse over $100,000 in team giveaways in the next calendar year. Sponsors have started taking notice as well, with the likes of EA Sports, Nerf, Hotels.com, Red Bull and other major brands seeing the value and growth from flag football as a way to effectively reach their target audience in large numbers. Women’s participation is at an all-time high as well, mirroring it’s popularity at the youth level, and is the preferred format of play for American football in most Central to South American countries.

So how does this all lead back to the Olympics and getting American football included as an official sport? First, let’s review a little history on where the sport stands today with the International Olympic Committee, or IOC.

Historically, In order to be included into the Olympic games as a demonstration sport, you have to have an International Federation and have held a World Championship competition. This must take place a minimum of 6 years before a scheduled Olympic games. The International Federation of American Football, primarily focused on tackle football but includes flag in it’s tournament lineup, met this standard and was approved in 2012, and gained provisional recognition in 2014. This could pave the way for American football to be included as an official sport, and flag football as possibly a discipline of said sport, however the IFAF has since faced setbacks due to alleged scandal, event mismanagement and misappropriation of funds that cannot bode well for the sports inclusion short term. Fortunately in 2007 the IOC adopted a new, more flexible rule set allowing programs to be up for review after every Olympics starting in 2020, clearing a path for all sports to present their case for being included by winning a simple majority vote.

So the opportunity is there for American football to be included in the most prestigious sporting event around the world, but how do we overcome the obstacles presented by the structure of the sport to fit the mold of a successful Olympic sporting event?

FLAG FOOTBALL IS THE KEY TO OLYMPIC INCLUSION
For every way tackle football doesn’t fit the mold as a logical choice for the IOC, there’s flag football. Here are the top 4 reasons flag football should be considered to be included as the next Olympic sport.

1. It’s Less Physically Demanding than Tackle Football

As we’ve already established, flag football is a much safer alternative than tackle football. Less hits and collisions equal fewer injuries, and flag football is already a proven success model that’s being praised for preserving the game for future generations. But when it comes to the Summer Olympic Games, safety is just one aspect of the physical demands of the sport, considering you have less than a 3 week window to fit in all levels of competition, and the year-round activity needed to practice and qualify. Imagine playing 6-7 full contact football games with a limited roster all within a span of ~16 days, not to mention other possible qualifying events throughout the year. For flag football, it’s not uncommon to play 6-7 games in a weekend or sometimes even a day, so the sport is more than equipped for this style of tournament play.

2. International Flag Football Interest is Exploding

As mentioned above, this is a major issue when determining whether a sport is fit to be considered, and while traditional American style tackle football is extremely popular worldwide as well, flag football appeals to more countries. It’s a lower barrier to entry as far as cost and equipment go, don’t require full length and striped football fields to participate, and is easier to hold larger tournament competitions and leagues to inspire local interest.

3. It Requires Fewer Participants

Depending on which format would be used (our guess is either 5v5 or 7v7), flag football requires far fewer participants than traditional tackle football. Part of this is due to it being a less physically demanding sport and the need for less substitutions, and another part is due to needing less specialist players, such as kickers, punters, special teams, offensive lineman, etc. Where each traditional tackle football team would probably carry 50+ competitors, flag football would need probably 15 players at most, cutting that number to less than a third. This is important because the Olympics cap their total participants to 10,500 athletes and coaches. It also again allows more countries to compete, especially poorer countries, where fielding a smaller and less financially demanding team coupled with the reasons above makes more sense.

4. It’s Not Just a Men’s Sport

Gender equality is a major emphasis for the IOC. The 2012 Summer Olympics marked the first time all sports included competing women in their category. Today, any new sport that is added to the Olympic Games must include both male and female participants. For tackle football, there is just not nearly enough interest from women participators for it to make sense. While there are some female players, and even some female tackle football leagues and organizations, it just doesn’t fit the mold, especially with the other issues relating to physicality and barrier to entry. For flag football this is not a problem as detailed above, with female participation booming internationally.

NEXT STEPS FOR FLAG FOOTBALL AND OLYMPIC INCLUSION
So how do we take the next steps to ride the momentum of flag football straight into the next available Olympic games? The IFAF has already helped begin the process of getting the sport of American Football in front of the IOC in recent years, but with their public issues and seemingly no movement since 2014 more needs to be done to keep moving forward. What we do know is that flag football is being taken seriously at all levels for really the first time in history, with major organizations making moves to get more into the flag football space and the creation of bigger and more international events to fuel the sport. We believe that either on it’s own, or as a discipline of tackle football, flag football WILL be included in the Olympics at some level in the next 10-20 years.

If that happened, what do you think that would do to boost the popularity and legitimacy of the sport of flag football long term? Let us know in the comments below!