Ivy League to play ‘Dream Bowl’ vs. Japan’s National Football Association on Jan. 22

All-Star football players from the Ivy League will face All-Stars from Japan’s National Football Association in the “Dream Bowl” in Tokyo in January, the Leagues announced Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The game will be played at the National Stadium, built for the recent Tokyo Olympics, kicking off at 1 pm local time on Jan. 22 (11 p.m. ET is Jan. 21).
  • The Ivy League, led by Columbia Coach Al Bagnoli, will send a 52-player team comprised of Seniors and Graduate students from its eight schools.
  • The Japan All-Star team will have players from the X League (including a handful of Americans), as well as college players and “crossover sport athletes.”

Backstory

The plan came together after the NFA “reached out to the Ivy League to gauge its interest in competing in the Dream Bowl with the goal of growing the game of football in Japan,” the Leagues said.

The Ivy League players will arrive in Japan on Jan. 15 and “take part in several cultural experiences.” Two Ivy League Professors will join the group to “further the educational experience of the travel party.”

A similar type of Ivy League-Japan All-Star game, the Ivy Epson Bowl, previously took place from 1989 to 1996, the Leagues said.

Why the Dream Bowl is happening

This is an interesting venture, in large part because the Ivy League does not participate in the FCS Playoffs. It’s a cool way to end the season for players and staff in the league, and it underscores how much American football is being played in Japan — which I’m not sure fans here fully understand.

The press release notes that the Japan All-Star team will be a combined team of X League (Japan’s top American football league) players, including nine Americans, college players and crossover sport athletes. This has been an undercover professional football playing option for former college players. – Auerbach

What they’re saying

“The student-athletes will receive an incredible cultural and educational experience during their time in Japan as well as a chance to play the game they love in a unique international setting,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said in a release. It is a testament to the global reputation of the league and the storied tradition of our football programs that the organizers from Japan contacted the Ivy League when developing the vision for this event. We are grateful for their collaboration and share in their excitement to display the skill and talent of Ivy League football to an international audience.”

(Photo: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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