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What the addition of flag football to the Olympics means for youth sports


In 2028, football will take the largest stage in sports at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Last week, flag football became one of five sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee for the upcoming games. Baseball/softball, lacrosse, cricket and squash were also added.

"Football has never been associated with the Olympics where you can represent your country and win a gold medal on the biggest stage of sports," said Myles Hayes, Raiders football development director. "I think it's special. … I think it gives all youth players something else to shoot for past high school."

Flag football has been growing recently in international popularity, with an estimated 20 million people in more than 100 countries playing the no-contact sport, according to a press release from the NFL.

The excitement isn't just among young players looking to see their sport on the biggest stage. NFL players are sharing their enthusiasm at the prospect of going for gold with Team USA.

"I'd definitely suit up. That'd be awesome and be an honor to play for the country," said Raiders running back Brandon Bolden

Since arriving in Las Vegas, the Silver and Black have been ardent supporters of growing flag football in local high schools with a special focus on girls flag, as Nevada is one of eight states with varsity girls flag teams.

Along with supporting boys tackle football, the Raiders have celebrated girls flag by showcasing select high school football matchups each week throughout the season and in collaboration with Nike and USA Football, have donated $150,000 in product to girls programs including uniforms, flag belts and field equipment.

The club also created the Silver and Black Flag Football League, connecting parents and youth ages 5-14 to flag football opportunities in Southern Nevada, supporting 5,000 youth annually.

"Playing sports, youth sports or youth football, teaches a lot about life that you might not necessarily get in the classroom about being a teammate and being accountable," Hayes said. "If we make that entry path easier for all kids to play football, I think we're impacting our community obviously on the field, but even off the field into life."

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