American football at the Summer Olympics

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American football at the Summer Olympics
American football pictogram.svg
Governing body IFAF
Events1 (men)
  • 1896
  • 1900
  • 1904
  • 1908
  • 1912
  • 1920
  • 1924
  • 1928
  • 1932
  • 1936
  • 1948
  • 1952
  • 1956
  • 1960
  • 1964
  • 1968
  • 1972
  • 1976
  • 1980
  • 1984
  • 1988
  • 1992
  • 1996
  • 2000
  • 2004
  • 2008
  • 2012
  • 2016
  • 2020

American football was featured in the Summer Olympic Games demonstration programme in 1904 and 1932. [1] College football was played at the 1904 Olympics, which was played at Francis Field, [2] but was, in reality, college teams playing each other as part of their regular seasons. [3] The sport was eventually played officially as a demonstration sport only once, in 1932. [4] Though American football has not been played in the Olympics since then, various American football players have participated in the Olympics. [5] The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) oversees the IFAF World Championship, which is an international tournament, which itself is held every four years. [6]


In 2013, the International Olympic Committee gave provisional recognition to The International Federation of American Football, setting up a possible vote on its future participation in the Olympics. In 2015, American Football was not included in the 2020 additions. [7] [8]

1904 Summer Games

Saint Louis University's 1904 "Olympic World's Champions" 1904 Olympic Champion St. Louis University Football Team.png
Saint Louis University's 1904 "Olympic World's Champions"

Saint Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis initially sought to contest an Olympic football championship, but were unable to host it officially. Both teams ended up simply playing their regular seasons from teams around the country, making their status as an official demonstration sport dubious. St. Louis was declared the champion "by default." As Francis Field was the main stadium for the 1904 Summer Olympics, only those games would have been considered a demonstrations for Olympic crowds. Only two games at Francis Field were played that did not involve Washington: a match between Purdue and Missouri, and the first match between two Indian school teams (Haskell and Carlisle) who were considered powerhouses in college football at the time. [3] [9]

DateWinning TeamLosing TeamScore
September 28, 1904 Washington (MO) Shurtleff 10–0
October 5, 1904Washington (MO) Rose 16–5
October 8, 1904 Illinois Washington (MO)31–0
October 15, 1904 Sewanee Washington (MO)17–0
October 19, 1904Washington (MO) Drury 36–0
October 22, 1904 Indiana Washington (MO)21–6
October 28, 1904 Purdue Missouri 11–0
October 29, 1904 Texas Washington (MO)23–0
November 5, 1904Washington (MO)Missouri11–0
November 12, 1904 Kansas Washington (MO)12–0
November 19, 1904 West Virginia Washington (MO)6–5
November 24, 1904 Haskell Washington (MO)47–0
November 26, 1904 Carlisle Haskell38–4

1932 Summer Games

IOC rejection and the future

Though American football has not been played in the Olympics since then, various American football players have participated in the Olympics. [5] In 2013, the International Olympic Committee gave provisional recognition to the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), setting up a possible vote on its future participation in the Olympics. [10] In 2015, American Football wasn't included in the 2020 additions with critics voicing the IFAF's lack of effort and surrounding drama around the 2015 IFAF World Championship. [7] [8]

Following the IOC's decline of the IFAF's application, the IFAF resubmitted its application, re-earning the provisional recognition for a possible addition in the 2024 Summer Olympics, with the earliest vote being as possible as 2017. [11] American football's inclusion in the Summer Olympics would possibly lead to pro players possibly being eligible for international representation, as under IFAF rules, professional American football players in the NFL are not eligible. [11] It has also been argued that due to roster restrictions, seven-on-seven is the most likely style of play to make it as a medal event in the same vein as rugby sevens, which debuted at the 2016 Summer Olympics. [12]

The NFL and IFAF are planning to back a proposal to include flag football, a non-contact variation of the game, as an event in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. [13]

See also

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