International Olympic Committee Recognizes American Football Federation

Jamie Squire

The first step to making American Football an Olympic sport has been taken today by the International Olympic Committee.

I'll start this off by saying that I love watching the Olympics and that spending a week in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics was the coolest, most impressive single event I have ever experienced.

Now brace yourselves, football fans: today, we are one giant step closer to having Football played at the Olympics.

In a press release by the International Federation of American Football (a group which has quietly been promoting football around the world since 1998), they announced that the International Olympic Committee has given the group "provisional recognition" as part of the IOC.

What this means is that the sport of American Football as a whole now has the potential for future inclusion in the Olympics, and that the IFAF will be the governing body for the sport. According to the Olympic Charter, the IFAF will, among other tasks, "establish and enforce...the rules concerning the practice of their respective sport and to ensure their application" and "establish their criteria of eligibility for the competitions of the Olympic Games."

Granted, it sounds like a ridiculous notion to think that a country besides the United States or Canada would be remotely competitive for a gold or silver medal at this point. However, any addition of the sport to the Olympics, whether the Summer or Winter Games, would be done far in the future, as sessions deciding on changes to sports in the Olympic Program are held several years before those changes take effect (for example, the 2009 session determined the program and the site for the 2016 Summer Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro). FOX Sports, for example, theorizes that 2024 is the earliest that Football could become a full medal sport.

Football has been played at the Olympics before, but it was only as a demonstration sport in the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.

This particular Packer fan is biased, and would love to have them added to the Winter Games and have contests played in conditions like those at Lambeau Field this past Sunday. However, since the Super Bowl has always been played in warm-weather climates or covered stadiums (before this year, of course) you can bet that there's no way that it would happen.

The NBA and NHL allow their players to participate in the Olympics through agreements between the respective leagues and their Players' Associations, but it's questionable whether either the NFL or the NFLPA would be interested in sending professionals to the Games. If they did, though, and if the teams could be motivated to play harder than in the Pro Bowl (not an insignificant challenge), imagine a series of games where your starting lineup consists of Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson all playing their hearts out. And if the NFL isn't interested, you could imagine an All-Star team of college football players being highly entertaining instead.

Maybe injury concerns would keep the NFL or its players out of the Games, but maybe players would be willing to give it a shot. Either way, I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun.

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