World flag football champion Diana Flores calls out sports pay gap


Flores’ football jersey from that Super Bowl commercial is now exhibited at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first piece of memorabilia from a flag football player. 

Flores moves confidently on TV and on the field. But she’s mindful of her humble beginnings in the sport when she didn’t always have support as a woman. 

“I started playing flag football at the age of 8 years old in Mexico City. Back then, the sport was not that popular. We didn’t have a lot of options to practice,” she said. “It was seen as a sport for men only.” 

Nevertheless, Flores says that her father nurtured her love for football — he had also played in Mexico City at the high school and college levels. 

Both father and daughter forged a bond as Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Flores says that she studied the moves of other quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. 

But outside of her childhood home, gender disparity shaped her earliest experiences as an athlete in football. 

Flores recalls that the football club she started playing with had a big stadium with natural grass and lighting. But she was not allowed to play on that field, since it was reserved for the men’s team. 

Instead, she trained and played on a backfield. 

“It was literally a dirt field full of rocks and sometimes trash,” she said. “My coach used to ask us every day to bring a trash bag, so we could spend the first 15 minutes just cleaning the field.” 

Flores keeps going back to this memory, she said, because it shows how much women have advanced in the sport. 

At age 14, Flores crossed over to the U.S. to play flag football in Boston. She then continued playing mostly with older players —women and men. At age 16, she was called up to the Mexican national team. 

Since then, Flores has won bronze, silver and gold medals with Mexico. 

Now, she and her team have their eyes set on 2028, when flag football will debut as an Olympic event.  

Flores firmly believes that if female athletes get fairer opportunities, not only will they deliver more fans to stadiums but also win more championships. 

In the interim, she wants to inspire women to reach those athletic goals. 

“Keep doing it for yourself, for your dreams, and for those who come after you,” she said. “Don’t stop fighting, continue moving on this path and build a legacy.” 


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