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Bears celebrate flag football becoming an Olympic sport

Flag football joins the Olympic family

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday the addition of men’s and women’s flag football to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Flag football is a non-contact version of American football that involves players wearing flags or belts that can be pulled by opponents to end a play. The sport is popular among youth and adults, and has been growing worldwide in recent years.

The IOC’s decision to include flag football as an additional sport for the 2028 Games was based on the proposal of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee, which aims to showcase the diversity and creativity of the host city and country. The IOC also considered the popularity, universality, gender equality, youth appeal and legacy of the sport.

Flag football will join baseball/softball, cricket, lacrosse and squash as the five additional sports for the 2028 Games, bringing the total number of sports to 37. The IOC said that these sports will add excitement and innovation to the Olympic program, while also reflecting the cultural and social significance of Los Angeles and the United States.

Bears celebrate flag football becoming an Olympic sport

Bears support the growth of flag football

The Chicago Bears have been one of the NFL teams at the forefront of the movement to grow flag football both in the United States and internationally. The club’s involvement officially began in 2021 when it helped the Chicago Public League launch the first high school girls flag programs in Illinois. Originally starting with 22 teams in its inaugural season, the league has now expanded to 109 teams, including schools from the West Suburban Conference and the Rockford area for the 2023 season.

The Bears have also collaborated with other NFL teams to launch girls flag football leagues in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Spain. The club has hosted several events and showcases for girls flag football players, featuring pioneers of the sport like Dr. Jen Welter, the first female NFL coach, and Diana Flores, star quarterback of the world champion Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team.

The Bears said in a statement that they are committed to furthering the growth and development of flag football, locally and globally, and that they are excited to see the sport become an Olympic sport in 2028.

“Flag football becoming an Olympic sport is historic and monumental,” Bears manager of youth and high school football Gustavo Silva said. “It is a great day for all of us who love the game of football and it means that our game will be featured on the biggest stage in sports, the Olympics. It means that so many young men and women will have the opportunity to represent their country playing the game they love.”

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus also praised the IOC’s decision and said that he is looking forward to watching flag football in 2028.

“I love that, I really do,” Eberflus said. “I think when you have flag football, you’re getting more involved in the game of football and it’s just growing the game. I think that’s awesome. It’s great and that’s going to be cool to watch.”

Flag football players aspire to become Olympians

The announcement of flag football becoming an Olympic sport has inspired many players who have been playing or coaching the sport for years. Some of them have expressed their interest or ambition to compete for a spot on their national teams and represent their countries in 2028.

One of them is Rob Gronkowski, former Patriots and Buccaneers tight end who retired from the NFL in 2021 after winning four Super Bowls. Gronkowski is a co-owner of USA Football’s Premier Flag Football League (PFFL), which is a professional league that features some of the best flag football players in the country. Gronkowski said that he is thrilled to see flag football join the Olympic family and that he would love to play for Team USA in 2028.

“I’ve always loved playing flag football since I was a kid,” Gronkowski said. “It’s such a fun and exciting sport that anyone can play. I’m so happy that it’s going to be an Olympic sport and I can’t wait to see it in 2028. I would definitely be interested in playing for Team USA if I get a chance. That would be awesome.”

Another player who hopes to become an Olympian is Emma Jazmin Valenzuela, who made history as one of the first female players from Illinois to earn a college scholarship in flag football. Valenzuela plays for St. Thomas University in Florida, which is one of the few schools that offer women’s flag football as a varsity sport. Valenzuela said that she is proud of how far she has come in her flag football journey and that she dreams of playing for Team Mexico in 2028.

“Flag football has changed my life,” Valenzuela said. “It has given me so many opportunities and experiences that I never imagined. It has taught me so much about teamwork, leadership, discipline and perseverance. I’m so grateful for everything that flag football has done for me and I hope to inspire more girls to play the sport. My ultimate goal is to play for Team Mexico in the Olympics and make my family and country proud.”

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