NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

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The NFL is still pushing for flag football to join the Olympic program. Though football hasn’t made significant public progress for inclusion in nine years, its best chance in many years may be on the horizon.

“If flag football becomes an Olympic sport, more countries will invest in playing that sport,” NFL International CEO Damani Leech said, according to CNBC, which builds on reports dating to at least last April about flag football’s push with the NFL’s backing.

The last significant step that football (in general, not specifically flag) took toward Olympic inclusion was in 2013. The International Olympic Committee provisionally recognized its international federation. IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the program down the line.

To get a sense of how far it must still go, football is still labeled as “provisional” on an IOC list of 35 international federations whose sports are not on the 2024 Olympic program. The other 34, many of which are not being considered for Olympic inclusion right now, do not have the “provisional” disclaimer for recognition. They include tug of war, life saving and korfball.

In 2015, IOC President Thomas Bach met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the Super Bowl, though Goodell didn’t push for Olympic inclusion at the time.

An Olympic sport “must have a broad international representation,” Bach said then about football, though it’s not clear if he was considering the flag version. “This I cannot see in football. It’s a very American sport.”

The IOC added two sports on its own in the last 21 years with golf and rugby returning for the 2016 Rio Games. However, under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

Football was one of 26 sports that applied for a place in Tokyo. Organizers eventually chose five to propose to the IOC — baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing — and all were accepted.

Organizers for the 2024 Paris Games already went through the process of proposing their new sports. Skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut.

So football’s next chance, and perhaps its best in many years, if ever, is the 2028 Los Angeles Games. If any host is to propose adding football, the country where it was invented makes the most sense. Football was contested once at the Olympics, at the first Los Angeles Games in 1932, as a demonstration sport.

LA 2028 organizers have not announced the sport(s), if any, they plan to propose to the IOC for inclusion. Tokyo organizers announced their picks a little less than five years before their Games.

“As we look at additional sport recommendations, we will continue to focus on sports that are relevant to Los Angeles, provide an incredible fan experience and contribute to the success of the Games,” LA 2028 chair Casey Wasserman said in a December press release. “We want to build on tradition, while progressing the Olympic Games forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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