Skip to Content

10+ Reasons Why American Football Is Not An Olympic Sport

The popularity of American football is still new to some countries, whereas others like Sweden, Germany, Mexico, and Japan, among others, are already in the race. Despite all the fame and popularity, American football is not in the Olympics to this day. 

The debate is never-ending, with many people giving ideas to achieve the goal of taking football to the Olympics, but it is still a long shot away. There are many beliefs and opinions regarding the causes of American football not making it to the Olympics. And today, I’ll like to share some of these reasons.

1. American Football is mostly an American sport.

American football may be famous and played in other countries, but it is still mostly an American sport. According to the data gathered from the NFL roster, most players are Americans.

2. The name ‘American Football’.

There is a growing belief among many people that the whole problem lies in the name and even suggests changing it to Gridiron. The word “American” in the sport’s name poses a hurdle that people interpret as belonging to a single country. 

The list of games in the Olympics carries a universal name and has no sense of ownership as opposed to “American” football. 

3. A biased sport in favor of the US.

Another reason is that it would be a biased game in favor of the American team. Since the game is mainly popular in the United States, American coaches and players are well versed in the sport. Therefore, other countries that are just starting with the sport might find it difficult to compete at such a level.

4. Athletes are comfortable in the NFL.  

It could be said that the coveted NFL players are not interested in venturing out of their zone of play. Maybe if there was enough force on the part of influential players to show concern for the future of American football on an international level, people would start to notice. 

5. Lack of interest.

Maybe it is the lack of interest or inability to understand the game that is not well spread to other further parts of the world. 

6. The risk of injuries.

American football is a high-impact sport, which leads to a high risk of injuries. As a result, most players need time to recover. The Olympics lasts for about three weeks which is little time for the players to rest and recover from their injuries.

7. Resting periods between games. 

One of the significant obstacles to having a sport like American football at the Olympics is the timeframe. The violent nature of the game is such that athletes need at least a minimum of 1 week’s time to recuperate.

This means that, on average, each team plays one game a week and takes the rest of the days off to recover and get back into shape. Therefore, the timeframe is also too small to play enough games. 

8. Lack of international direction and vision.

One of the most common arguments is that the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), which is the governing body for football associations around the world, lacked direction and vision.  

Granted, many commendable IFAF committee members work tirelessly and positively contribute to the growth of the game. However, the IFAF, which is the equivalent of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in meaning, falls short in many departments of executing power and management. 

9. The sport might be too expensive.

Many debates and discussions revolve around the fact that maybe American football is an expensive sport that organizations and athletes cannot afford. The game itself is a complicated one, and the gear required for the teams comes in costly parts. 

The United States may be able to supply it since the game originates from its homeland, and the availability of the products at affordable prices may not be scarce. However, for a developing country or one that is starting and new to the game may find it expensive. 

10. The number of players needed.

To add to the problems is the number of players the sport requires. To orchestrate the players, coaches, the outfit, etc., on an international ground is not an easy task. The number of countries playing the game is also another issue.

11. If included, American Football will have to lose its essence.  

The IOC’s recognition status of American football stirred up many predictions and talks among sports enthusiasts. However, if the sport were to have a place in the Olympic Games, certain rules and regulations would change. 

The small changes here and there to accommodate the game in the Olympics could alter its original version. Supposing American football made it to the Olympics, and such changes occurred, the sport would have lost its true meaning and identity. 


There are two sides to the debate over if American football should have a place in the Olympic Games. Apart from the severe injuries that players would suffer, in spirit, the game is more cultural to the country. 

Many people are of the opinion that the sport is not so popular or enjoyed by people outside of the US, which limits its validity. 

Another strong point is the capability of the players from other countries to compete against the already experienced American football athletes. It would look more like a massacre of the opposing teams who would have had less training or strategy to defend. 

The bottom line lies in the fact that whether American football makes it to the Olympics or not, it is still a beloved sport in many countries. Maybe in the future, the IOC can come to an agreement and allow its participation.