Unrivaled Sports Expands Flag Football Division With Acquisition Of Under The Lights Powered By Under Armour

2 May 2024

Unrivaled Sports, a leader in world-class youth sports experiences and facilities, announced today the acquisition of Under the Lights Powered by Under Armour, the second-largest youth flag football operator in the U.S. This expansion follows Josh Harris, David Blitzer, and The Chernin Group's recent launch of Unrivaled Sports, the parent company of 15 premier youth sports properties, including ForeverLawn Sports Complex at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio.

Founded in 2015, Under the Lights Powered by Under Armour operates 170 local flag football leagues with 35,000 boys and girls from first through eighth grades, organizing events for more than 5,000 teams in 27 states. Each league within Under the Lights emphasizes a competitive and confidence-building experience.

OneTeam Partners, which acquired Under the Lights in 2021, will retain a stake in the company and explore partnership opportunities to create innovative programming and marketing via access to the NFL Players Association and its players.

Flag football's popularity has surged over the last decade, culminating in its inclusion as an Olympic sport at the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. The International Federation of American Football reports that approximately 2.4 million children under 17 participate in organized flag football in the U.S. The sport is significantly growing in popularity for girls. Nearly half a million girls played flag football in 2023, a 63% increase since 2019. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the number of "core" youth flag football players, defined as ages 6-17 who played at least 26 times a year, increased by 14.9% over the past three years.

"As flag football approaches its Olympic debut in 2028, we are thrilled to spearhead the sport's development at the youth level," said Amanda Shank, EVP of Business Development at Unrivaled Sports. "By leveraging our combined expertise and resources, our goal is to enable more access to flag football while adding operational excellence. We also plan to establish Canton as the epicenter for flag football through the incredible ForeverLawn Sports Complex at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village."

"Joining the Unrivaled Sports family marks a thrilling new chapter for flag football at the youth level," said Matt Raab, who was promoted to President of League Operations at Under the Lights as part of the transaction. "We plan to continue to invest in the Under the Lights experience for both our players and our commissioners, expand our reach, and elevate the flag football experience nationwide."

"Recognizing the immense potential in our partnership with Unrivaled Sports, we're committed to leveraging our Player Association rights to create unique value in the youth and experiential marketplace," stated Frank Arthofer, President of OneTeam Partners, the global leader in commercializing professional and collegiate athlete rights, which counts among its owners the NFLPA, MLBPA, MLSPA, HPS Investment Partners, General Atlantic, and others. "This begins with Unrivaled, and we have deep conviction in this platform, business, and team to deliver."

"This is an incredibly exciting time to be in flag football as participation continues to accelerate at all levels of the sport, with both boys and girls," said Andy Campion, Chairman of the Board for Unrivaled Sports and member of the LA28 Board of Directors. "With flag football's inclusion at LA28, we have a unique opportunity to shape the future of the sport at the youth level over the next four years and beyond."

Under Armour® is also the exclusive apparel company for Unrivaled Sports' baseball division, which includes Ripken Baseball®, Cooperstown All Star Village and Sports Force Parks™.