Here in the United States, it is the holiday season, Thanksgiving is this week, Christmas right around the corner and New Years not that much later. For college students, finals week is coming up and that is kind of a holiday for them as well. Traditionally what does everyone do on Thanksgiving? See family, eat too much, and pass out watching football. For years NFL and Thanksgiving have been mentioned almost in the same breath, in general, by everyone that loves the holiday. Why are they intertwined?
First let me say that sports and holidays have always had a connection, 4th of July and Memorial Day have baseball, Thanksgiving has football, Christmas, New Years, and MLK day have basketball. Even popular holidays, even not federally recognized have ties to sports with Valentine’s day and Saint Patrick’s day causing basketball to have theme nights while Mother’s Day and Father’s Day doing the same for baseball, even Halloween has the football and basketball players changing things up for their routine.
All the sports recognize these days as holidays, as they mention it not only on broadcasts but the players themselves even talk about (there’s even a Turkey Leg Award for these games). They traditionally play power teams at these games, the NFL always plays the Cowboys and Lions as well. Every year there are always games and for the foreseeable future, there will continue to be. Why?
The answer is simple, money and television rights, which are one in the same. Television companies pay to air the games and the NFL and the TV companies rake in the rewards and cash. Both parties know that since everyone is off for the day that this would be a great day to capitalize on the opportunity to have a seemingly greater number of viewers. Even with the “NFL ratings being down this year because of ‘x’” everyone will watch these games, but why?
Everyone will watch these games because it’s tradition, just like watching basketball on Christmas is tradition or baseball on fourth of July. No matter how you think about it, sports and holidays have ties greater than “just another game”. Even on non-tradition holidays, 9-11 for example, the games are different, not in the sense that they change physically or aesthetically, but emotionally and internally.
The one thing that non-sports traditionalist say, “Why are we watching these people give up their holiday for a sport, their job when everyone else gets the day off?” To that I say tradition! In all honesty, however, the reason they do not get those holidays off is that they do not work year round. Yes, in their offseason they do workouts and other things to get better but they do not have to come in and work like everyone else does. That is why it is acceptable to watch them play on holidays, and also ya know the tradition.
So remember when you are done chowing down that turkey and potatoes and about to fall asleep on the couch, that this is tradition and will be for a while longer. And when opening presents and eating with family on Christmas while watching LeBron, in the new Christmas Day jersey’s for the year, dunk on fools remember its tradition. Every holiday has a sports tie-in and it will stay the same for years and become more of a tradition for more of America.
Have a fun and Happy Thanksgiving!