Thanksgiving and Sports

Thanksgiving and Sports Go Together Like Turkey, Mash Potatoes and Gravy

The holidays are a wonderful time to get together and watch sports. Parents with children who play youth sports can enjoy watching games together. Sometimes you can even venture outside and shoot some hoops or toss the pigskin around.

Thanksgiving is one of those special holidays where sports are ingrained in the celebrations. It’s a chance for a connection between parents and children who love sports. Here is a little history about how football and basketball have become as common as the turkey and stuffing on Turkey Day.

Turkey Day Gridiron

The first celebration of the Pilgrims coming to the new world was designated by the first President of the United States in November 1789. President Franklin D. Roosevelt inked a presidential proclamation marking on the US calendar for the next to last Thursday of every November.

However, even the most avid football fan may not realize that the NFL has been playing on Thanksgiving Day since its very beginning in 1920. Fans might also be interested to know that the tradition of getting out on the gridiron on Turkey Day has its roots as far back as 1876, just a couple years after the game was invented.

Two Ivy League colleges, Yale and Princeton, were the first to make it an annual American tradition. In fact, the only period in our nation’s history, since the early 20s, where no professional game was held was during World War II.

It was in 1934, that the Detroit Lions decided to try the idea of playing a game on Turkey Day. They had just moved from Portsmouth, and the owner hoped to boost game attendance by playing on a holiday. The Lions hosted the Bears in what was also the first televised Turkey Day NFL game.

Hoops on Turkey Day

The NBA has even discovered how much we associate sports with the holidays. While there aren’t any actual games slated for the next to last Thursday, the pros take advantage of what has now become Black Friday. There is a full schedule on Friday, beginning with a noon start in Brooklyn.

The college teams won’t be taking Turkey Day off. There are more than a dozen televised college basketball games set for Thursday the 22nd, including the defending NCAA tournament champion Villanova Wildcats.

Oddly enough, it was in late November 1891 that the game’s inventor was contemplating how to make a game out of a ball and a peach basket nailed to post. So, while the gridiron has a longer history of Turkey Day games, players have taken to the court over the years as well.

On the day we here at Wheatland Athletic Association share our gratefulness, gridiron games have been as commonplace as pumpkin pie. Basketball fans also have a host of games to watch during the long holiday weekend. Parents with kids in youth sports can use this rich tradition as a bonding tool with their kids. So, pass the turkey and gravy, but don’t forget to indulge in the rich tradition of sports on Thanksgiving.


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