NFL Flag Championships to bring 280 teams, 2,860 players to Canton in July

NFL Published on : 6/24/2024
  • ​​2,860 players will participate in new tournament; all 32 NFL clubs will be represented

  • ESPN, Disney and the NFL to showcase 32 games of the tournament across multiple networks and platforms 

The National Football League announced last week that 2,860 flag players will participate in the NFL Flag Championships presented by Toyota, the world's premiere youth flag football tournament, from July 18-21, at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio. The championships will feature 280 NFL Flag regional winning teams of girls and boys and six international teams. ESPN, Disney, and the NFL will bring fans exciting action throughout the event, with coverage spanning 10 different platforms.

The NFL announced last week that 2,860 flag players will participate in the NFL Flag Championships from from July 18-21 at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton.Players will have an elevated experience while visiting the Hall of Fame Village campus, beginning with introductions of the teams and coaches on opening night. Teams will also tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which includes its first flag football exhibit, to educate players about the history of football.

“The NFL Flag Championships presented by Toyota, being held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, amplifies the goal for this tournament and for the NFL," said Stephanie Kwok, vice president of Flag Football. “This championship will showcase highly competitive games with competition from all 32 NFL clubs around the country. It also exemplifies that flag football at the grassroots level is inclusive and accessible, every girl or boy that wants to play will have every opportunity to play this game." 

In February, ESPN signed a five-year media rights deal that will broadcast the tournaments each year. The network will broadcast 32 hours of live coverage of the highly competitive 18U girls and the much anticipated 15U boys single elimination tournaments across the three-day championship event, with at least six hours on linear television each day. Games will be distributed broadly across ESPN, Disney and NFL touchpoints including Spanish-language coverage of the semifinals and championships. While each game will be available on ESPN+ and NFL+, 20 games will stream on YouTube and six games will also be available on ESPN, with an additional four games available on ESPN2. On Sunday, the platforms for the championship finals will expand to include additional Disney platforms, with both the boys and girl's games airing on ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD and ESPN Deportes and streaming on Disney+, ESPN+ and NFL+. Six games across the three days will also air on NFL Network.  

The NFL Flag Championships will be available in more than 125 countries, including live coverage available in Mexico, Brazil, throughout Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Fans in the Netherlands, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands will also be able to consume coverage of the event on ESPN branded networks.  

“Combining ESPN and Disney platforms with the NFL's commitment to flag football, the NFL Flag Championships will be the showcase event of the summer for the world's fastest growing sport," said Julie Sobieski, ESPN senior vice president of league programming and acquisitions. “Through our presentation and robust global distribution, we will spotlight the highly talented boys and girls within the tournament, while also highlighting the exciting, inclusive, and accessible nature of the sport. We look forward to being a gateway for many fans, including the peers of the participating athletes, to experience competitive flag football for the first time."

Toyota is the Presenting Partner of NFL Flag tournaments across the U.S. — spanning the NFL Flag Championships and Regional Tournaments as well as NFL Flag League Play. At the NFL Flag Championships presented by Toyota this July in Canton, Toyota will have a co-branded presence on all NFL Flag jerseys and flags, as well as signage and activation space at Fan Fest. Toyota will also sponsor ESPN and Disney's live broadcast coverage of the top boys (18U) and girls (15U) divisions in the tournament.
“The NFL Flag Championships presented by Toyota will show football players emerging as stars across different ages and genders," said Dave Christ, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. "Our sponsorship aims to support the sport from grassroots to elite levels, culminating in showcasing the live television debut of these young talents at Canton."

Subway has been a proud sponsor of NFL Flag since 2020 thanks to a shared commitment to keep youth active. They will continue their support as an official sponsor of NFL Flag Championships, appearing on flag belts and field signage.

Visa, an official sponsor of NFL Flag Championships, will be the presenting sponsor of the Flag Coach of the Year Award. This award honors coaches who serve the best interest of the game, motivate their players to achieve, and are dedicated to their communities. Through this partnership, Visa continues its mission to foster inclusivity, championing women's sports and female athletes.

Oakley has been a proud partner of NFL Flag since 2023 spanning the NFL Flag Championships and Regional Tournaments as well as NFL Flag League Play. As a part of the brand's continued support, Oakley will be present in Canton with on-site activations and a retail space at the NFL Flag Fan Fest and will honor the best-of-the-best with the “Oakley Future of Flag" team. For the third year in row, Oakley will engage with young athletes and equip them with best-in-class eyewear for use on and off the field.

The tournament structure will begin with pool play on Thursday, July 18. On Friday, there will be a round of 16 for two age groups and pool play for designated age groups. On Saturday, there will be quarterfinals and playoffs. Sunday, the last day of the tournament, will include semifinals and finals.

RCX is the sole operator of NFL Flag, responsible for producing the four-day competition. RCX is the premier youth sports experience business and facilitates flag football opportunities for athletes of all ages, genders, and economic backgrounds from around the world.

"The NFL Flag Championships presented by Toyota will be a wonderful opportunity for these athletes to play flag football on the biggest stage they've ever experienced," said Izell Reese, CEO of RCX Sports and executive director of NFL Flag. "I'm so proud of each of these athletes for chasing their dreams in Ohio, and I'm grateful to our partners to showcase the game on the national stage. As we at RCX Sports continue to break down barriers to entry for youth sports, this event will play a vital role in helping us live up to our mission for years to come."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in October that flag football will be included in the 2028 Summer Olympic Games program in Los Angeles. The inclusion puts flag football on the world's largest stage. For the first time, an international division made up of 14U athletes from around the world will also compete at the NFL Flag Championships in Canton. Six co-ed teams will travel from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Great Britain and Mexico to compete against one another. All teams will have qualified for the NFL Flag Championships in the U.S., by winning national NFL Flag tournaments in their home countries.

Flag football's rapid growth and popularity also is reflected in an exhibit inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Flag football is the world's fastest-growing sport, played by over 20 million people in more than 100 countries, across six continents. It is the most inclusive and accessible format of football, played by people of all ages and genders, with female athletes driving some of the fastest growth.

“The entire community is excited and preparing to welcome the NFL Flag Championships to Canton and to share Hall of Fame Village with the world," shared Michael Crawford, president and CEO of Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company, Hall of Fame Village's parent company. “We believe that the village is the perfect place to host these amazing young athletes and their families, given Canton is the home of professional football and where the greatest to ever play the game reside forever. It's an incredible opportunity to connect the past with the future over four days of world-class competition."

Tournament players and coaches will be invited to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame free of charge, and parents and other family members will receive discounted admission and discounts in the Hall's retail store.

“We are certain everyone coming to Canton for this great event will leave with memories that will last a lifetime," said Jim Porter, president of the Hall of Fame. “At the Hall, guests will learn about and meet some of the greatest to play the sport while also taking home with them many valuable lessons the game teaches at every level."

In addition, NFL Tuesday Night Gaming (NFL TNG), the NFL's popular video gaming content series, will host an onsite activation to capture content with NFL Flag participants, fans, and NFL Legends for a special flag-themed episode that will air on July 23 on NFL TNG's Twitch, YouTube and X channels. NFL TNG's tent experience will feature a 1v1 gaming station where NFL Flag participants can meet and play with beloved gaming content creators while battling in popular video game titles such as Madden, Fortnite and Rocket League. The activation will also offer NFL Flag participants an opportunity to participate in field day style mini games and NFL-themed trivia with gaming content creators.

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For more information on NFL Flag football and to find a league in your neighborhood, please visit here.