KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Flag football will debut in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, and count Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt as a fan of the sports opportunity on the global stage.
“I was really excited when I heard the news about flag football being approved for the Los Angeles Olympic games that are coming up,” Hunt said. “I think that’ll really help mainstream the sport.”
The 2028 Olympics run July 14-30, which is normally when NFL training camps open. But could fans see a 31-year-old Patrick Mahomes vying for an Olympic gold medal? Hunt didn’t rule it out.
“I only think it’s natural that the NFL is going to have a lot of players who want to play in that tournament,” Hunt said. “It’ll be a very interesting question for a lot of general managers and head coaches as to whether they’re going to allow that to happen. But I wouldn’t be surprised that we might have some players who are interested in doing it.”
The league will work through the inclusion of NFL players in the Olympics with players, coaches, the NFL Players Association and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), according to Peter O’Reilly, NFL executive vice president for club business, major events and international.
“You’ve probably all heard the voices from current players, some former players expressing their interest in being on that stage representing their country, whether that’s a USA or potentially a foreign-born player in the NFL,” O’Reilly said. “We’ll continue to work through that process with the key stakeholders, and those clearly include the clubs, include the players and the NFLPA, include USA football and IFAF, the both national governing body and the International Federation. But we think there’s a powerful opportunity there.”
The NFL has aggressively supported flag football as an opportunity to expand the game. The league sponsors regional contests, hosts championship tournaments at the Pro Bowl and advocates for flag football in schools. Hunt will attend a youth flag football game in Germany this week when the Chiefs travel to Frankfurt to play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Hunt sees flag football as an ideal way to grow the sport across the globe.
“It’s low cost, relatively easy to learn,” Hunt explained. “It’s safe, it can be played in small-sided games. So the league has really leaned in in terms of growing flag football, both in the United States and internationally.”
NFL FLAG, the league’s official program for youths age 4 to 17, says more than 700,000 kids participated this year with more than 1,600 clubs and teams across all 50 states and Canada. O’Reilly cites the growth of girls’ and women’s flag football at the high school and college level as well as growth in Europe, Asia and Mexico as illustrative of the opportunity for flag football to build the image and awareness of the sport.
“We are going to continue to very much lean in and provide the platform and support for growing the game for girls and boys at the grassroots level,” O’Reilly said. “They’ll create that pipeline. Whether that’s to play at any level above that and potentially on an Olympic stage, it’s a really important priority for us.”
The inclusion of flag football in the 2028 Olympics is a key milestone for the sport, and Hunt believes it’s a golden opportunity to expand the game of football by extension build an audience for the NFL as well as the Chiefs.
“I think we’ve seen that with the Olympics over over time,” Hunt said. “A lot of sports that may be secondary in nature for the American audience, you really dial in and pay attention to it during the Olympics.”