Changing The Game: Flag Football Star Diana Flores Is an Advocate for Women in Sports

UPDATED: June 4, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 7, 2024
diana flores

At the age of 8, standing on a field in Mexico City, playing flag football with a group of 16-year-old girls, Diana Flores could never have known she’d fall in love. That fast, agile little girl who grew up watching her father play tackle football—a sport allocated to men, who also got paid to play—would never have imagined herself as a star. Not even when she was 13, playing on an all-boys flag football team, and outrunning them all, in the NFL FLAG Football League in Mexico City.

Even when she earned a spot on the Mexico Women’s Flag Football team at just 16, darting and bobbing across the field with the force of a tornado, she still didn’t see the game as a viable career path. How could she? She didn’t see women flag football stars in the NFL or in commercials representing the sport. She didn’t see stadiums full of fans cheering for women, all of whom could give any male player a run for their money.

Diana Flores is changing the game

Yet here she is—a role model for what’s possible. Not just for women in flag football, but for women in all sports. A model for what’s possible for girls who don’t want to have to answer questions about their value, their talents or their right to be on the field.

If you ask Flores what she most wants to be known for, though, it’s one thing: promise.

The promise that the future she didn’t see as a girl will not be the reality for girls today. The promise that flag football will pay a living wage, allowing women to quit their day jobs and give everything to the sport instead of struggling to pay the bills while also playing the sport they love. The promise that Latinas and women will see themselves represented in sports arenas everywhere, for any sport, but especially for flag football.

“It’s a very inclusive sport,” Flores says, adding that “one of the things I love the most about flag is that it has no stereotypes regarding athletes. So no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter your strengths, you can always find a place on the field.”

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The rise of flag football

Though Flores says the non-contact sport—which can be played co-ed by people of any age—was around even before she began playing 19 years ago, its meteoric rise in recent years is impressive. The NFL calls it one of the fastest-growing sports, with more than 20 million players in over 100 countries.

Some of the best predictions for the sport come from those connected to tackle football, like Troy Vincent Sr., executive vice president of NFL Football Operations, who says, “When I’m asked what the next 100 years looks like when you look at football—not professional football—it’s flag. It’s the inclusion and the true motto of ‘football for all.’”

These words, and the statistics that validate them, mean everything to Flores, who says these milestones help bring interest and awareness of the game. In turn, this means there will be more people who invest in the sport and make big decisions that would allow women to one day “make a living from playing the sport we love.”

Diana Flores Super Bowl commercial

In addition to the success Flores and her team experienced at the 2022 World Games, there’s one other competition she has found herself a part of that may help expedite that dream: the Super Bowl.

She was the star of the Emmy Award-winning Super Bowl LVII commercial, Run With It, which focused on her circumnavigating obstacles put in her path while people tried to grab her flags. Tennis legend Billie Jean King helped her by slamming a door on those who got in her way (a striking metaphor for real-life challenges faced by female athletes), and Flores was jumping over roofs like a true action hero while many famous NFL players watched her triumph.

“It was an amazing experience for me to be able to work with incredible people—the NFL players, Billie Jean King and all the people behind the scenes,” Flores says, adding that the best part was the acknowledgment that “we all knew that what we were doing had a big purpose, that the message was empowerment. The message at the end was a message of unity.”

A voice for the Latina community

The unity goes beyond sports for Flores. “Another thing I really feel proud of is giving a voice to my Latina community,” she says. “That was a very powerful moment in the Super Bowl when [for many in my community, it was the first time] we heard our native language being spoken at a big platform like the Super Bowl.”

Representation matters, and Flores is passionate about being a leader not just for her sport but also for her country and culture. She remembers a particularly poignant exchange she had with a Latino family who sent her a message after seeing her commercial.

“[They told me], ‘We have been struggling with our daughter to speak Spanish because [she] feels ashamed,’” Flores recalls. She adds, “That’s a thing that still happens. [Kids] feel ashamed to speak Spanish at their schools because they feel that they are the only ones.” The parents told her, “‘We haven’t been able to make her feel proud until she watched that Super Bowl commercial. And one of the first things she saw was the Mexico flag on you. And when she heard you speaking Spanish, she felt super proud. And the day after, she went back to school and just started telling everybody that she was from Mexico, too, and all the kids started asking her, how do you say hello in Spanish? How do you say this in Spanish?’”

“And all the mentality changed,” Flores continues. “To hear those kinds of stories was like, wow. I didn’t even imagine that a thing like that could have that impact. And probably that changed her life or many other young kids’ lives [in] the way they see themselves.”

Fame and women’s flag football

Eventually, Flores noticed that people who didn’t know about flag football were starting to recognize her.

“The most amazing thing about that for me is that they discovered a new sport,” she says. “They discovered that women belong in football.”

Flores is also an ambassador for Under Armour, making her the first flag football athlete to sign a sponsorship deal with any major athletic company. She’s also the first flag football player to have a jersey in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Being a role model

She joined the Mexico Women’s Flag Football Team at age 16 with the goal of becoming quarterback but did not achieve that milestone for nine years. She says she wasn’t immediately able to play the position she loved because she was still a rookie on the team.

“[There was] this stigma of ‘How are you going to be a good leader if you’re the youngest player of the team? How are you going to manage the pressure?’… I remember hearing a lot of times, ‘Oh, but you’re too small; you’re too short,’” Flores recalls.

Besides challenging the stereotypes others may have had, Flores says one of the most important things she learned was that she couldn’t control everything. What she could control was her perspective. For her, that meant changing her leadership, how present she was and how connected she was to her teammates.

Ultimately, her willingness to work hard and never give up allowed her to create the kind of future that her 8-year-old self, standing in a field in Mexico City, could never have imagined.

“This was never my dream because it was not a possibility, period,” she says. “So right now, to be able to remind the girls or show the girls that this is now a possibility for them, that now they can dream this big, because now it is a reality—it is the biggest blessing. I take that as a big responsibility, because I’ve realized that what we do as athletes has a bigger impact than on the field. It is more than the game.”

“Being a role model means more than being a good player… it means building a legacy for the next generations. It means opening doors and honoring what other women have done before us, for us to be able to be where we are,” Flores adds. “I feel very proud and excited to be part of this movement of change that we’re living right now regarding women in sports. We’re finally building the platform that we have deserved.” 

This article originally appeared in the May issue of SUCCESS+ digital magazine. Photo by ©Trevor M Smith.

Stefanie Ellis is a food and travel writer, as well as PR strategist and content creator for her own company. She has bylines in The Washington Post, BBC Travel, Eating Well, Saveur and more, and her clients are thought leaders in finance, branding, healthcare and the food and beverage space, with a former NBA player and duct work company thrown in for good measure. You can get in touch at or on Instagram @40somethingunicorn.