The NFL has gone to great lengths to globalize the sport of American football in recent years by playing games overseas, and it took another huge step in this endeavor Tuesday. The sport's international federation has been given provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports.
It remains to be seen how this will ultimately impact the growth of the sport, but it should be huge in terms of increasing the sport's popularity internationally.
Short-term, this is significant because it opens doors for sports ministries worldwide to begin sponsoring sport & helping subsidize costs— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) December 10, 2013
Also, if things progress as well as hoped, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that American football could find its way into the Olympic program down the line.
Long-term, this increases chances that a form of American football like 7-on-7 could someday be played in Olympics— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) December 10, 2013
If American football does become an Olympic sport, it's possible that it will be a modified version, such as rugby sevens, which will be will be contested in the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.
RT @ProFootballDoc: As you probably know, sevens rugby will be in next Olympics in Rio<Yup. More manageable number for Olympic team— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) December 10, 2013
According to Marvez, the International Federation of American Football currently has 64 member nations, but that number figures to increase significantly now that it is related to the IOC.
There are currently 64 member nations spanning 6 continents as part of International Federation of American Football. Number may rise now— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) December 10, 2013
Will American football ever become an Olympic sport?
Baseball, which is considered the United States' first sporting pastime, was successfully globalized and is now one of the most popular sports in the world.
It will take plenty of time and effort for American football to reach that level, but the sport's federation and the NFL are both clearly committed to making it happen.
Not only are the Olympics a possibility in the future, but NFL global expansion could be something to look out for as well.
According to the Associated Press, via Fox Sports, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been vocal about wanting an NFL franchise in London one day:
We don't have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won't be played anywhere where we don't have a franchise.
If the NFL ultimately decides to expand to London, it will help grow the game by leaps and bounds. Getting the IOC nod figures to make it more feasible as well.
Most probably never thought that rugby or golf would be included in the Summer Olympics or that snowboarding would become part of the Winter Olympics' program. All of that has come to fruition, though.
If American football's popularity takes off like many expect it to, the sky is the limit.
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