Thanksgiving in America is symbolic. It’s about the family coming together, appreciating each other, and trusting one another. We enjoy a great time and great company. In many ways, football is the perfect sport to play on Thanksgiving day.
The first football game played on Thanksgiving dates all the way back to 1869. To put that into perspective, the Thanksgiving holiday was only six years old; Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1863.
The place was Philadelphia, where according to that year’s Nov. 17 edition of the Evening Telegraph newspaper, “a foot-ball match between twenty-two players of the Young America Cricket Club and the Germantown Cricket Club will take place on Thanksgiving Day at 12 1/2 o’clock, on the grounds of the Germantown Club.” This game was two weeks after the first-ever football game, when Rutgers University beat Princeton University. So the tradition is as old as football itself.
For the NFL, they adopted Turkey Day as their holiday 99 years ago, and games have become a staple of tradition since. You’ll see the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play every year on Thanksgiving to this day.
So football and Thanksgiving run deep. Nowadays, you’ll see three games full of holiday festivities in the NFL, the Egg Bowl (Ole Miss versus Mississippi State), and a weekend full of high school football playoffs.
Football, like Thanksgiving, is about camaraderie. While a pitcher can win you a baseball game, or a goalie in hockey, and basketball certainly has the ability for one player to take over, football is a different game.
The beauty of the game is the ability of 11 people to work together, to either move down the field or prevent the other team from scoring. If one player falters, the system breaks, and the other team gains an advantage. Unlike any other sport, it is a game of family and working together to achieve a goal.
During Thanksgiving, we say you can never get enough turkey and can never get enough football. While the teams band together to battle it out on the field, you and your family will band together, conquering the treasure troves of food and enjoying great company and great sport.
While you’re enjoying your yearly intake of turkey and stuffing, and your family gather around the TV, think of the joy of coming together and enjoy some football.