Better to be Home for the Holidays
Obviously, I love sports, and if I could watch SportsCenter all day long I would. I may not necessarily be paying attention to it the entire time — oftentimes I have ESPN on as background noise — but it’s something that keeps me entertained (unless it’s poker; ESPN should stop with that already). However, I could do without sporting events on holidays.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching football on Thanksgiving as much as anybody else and I love watching the NBA on Christmas. But while my family and plenty of other families may enjoy coming together around the TV to cheer on their team, it’s unfair to the athletes themselves and to their families.
I know what you’re going to say — athletes are awarded so many privileges and they make an absurd amount of money, so they can sacrifice a day for our entertainment. Maybe one Christmas or one Thanksgiving away from home isn’t so bad. However, it tends to be the same athletes, ones like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, etc., and the same teams, like the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, who are playing on these holidays year after year. I’m sure these players would rather be with their own families than on the court or the field playing some ball.
James even said the following in 2010: “I think the people that even set the games up would rather be home with their family during this day. It’s not just a regular holiday. It’s definitely one of those days that you wish you could wake up in the morning with the kids and open up presents.”
Yes, those people who set up the games would most likely rather be home, celebrating the day with their loved ones.
A sporting event doesn’t just include the game itself and the athletes who are on the court, field or whatever respective playing ground there is. It includes the people who set up the event, the people who subsequently have to work it and the people who have to clean it up afterward.
It includes the TV crew that is there filming. It includes the people working to compile a highlight reel, and it includes the studio talent giving their analyses during the pregame, halftime or postgame shows.
It includes all the journalists working for their respective news outlets. Since Thanksgiving and Christmas day games are typically more hyped up than other regular season games (there will be a finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers this season), there is more media coverage, and more people working the event.
The three hours for a game isn’t all the time it takes up. Athletes have to show up early to warm up, and reporters have to show up early to set up and watch those warm-ups. Afterward, athletes have to stay for post-game interviews, and reporters have to stay to finish up their slate of stories. Then, for almost half of the people involved, they have to fly back home.
This year the Runnin’ Utes are playing in a tournament over Christmas in Hawaii, and while I’m sure Hawaii will be fun, it could be more enjoyable if they did not have to play on Christmas. (I’ll most likely end up writing a recap about whatever game they play, and to be honest, I’m going to be a little bitter about it.)
Am I going to watch to the Cavs and the Warrios play on Christmas? Yes, of course, I am. More than not I’ll be watching all five NBA games (albeit I probably won’t pay full attention), but I could do without it. There are another 363 days of the year to play games on. There is no need for games on holidays.
So again, it’s not just about the athletes who deserve to be home with their families. It’s about all the people involved with those Thanksgiving and Christmas Day games who deserve to take that day off.
Games Bring Families Together
As long as I can remember, it has always been a tradition — in my family at least — to sit down in front of the TV after Thanksgiving dinner and turn on any and all games that were being played that day.
Whether we cheered on the team that happened to be playing, like when the Green Bay Packers played the Detroit Lions in 2009 and the Packers won, 34-12, or fell into a food coma, there was always a game on in every room and on every TV in my house, and it has been that way in my family for a very long time.
I understand that sometimes it is difficult for players and their families when they don’t get the chance to spend the holidays with each other because of scheduled games. Don’t get me wrong, I hope that someday players get the chance to not have a game scheduled on a big or special holiday, and they get to spend the day with their families. But it’s not like every team plays on holidays every year, so why break tradition?
For college football, Thanksgiving weekend usually marks the end of regular football season and it is the weekend that school teams find out who they will be playing against in conference championships. Holding a historic tradition since the 1890s, it would be a crying shame to not have something to watch on Thanksgiving.
Same goes for the NFL. Professional teams and leagues have played on Thanksgiving Day since the beginning and will continue until the end — hopefully.
Going into the month of December, college teams usually play their bowl games before and after Christmas, sometimes falling on New Year’s Eve and Day. While the NFL makes a point to avoid playing on Christmas Day, many great games have been played on Christmas and Christmas Eve, like when the Packers defeated the Bears 35-21 in 2011. (Side note: is it just me or do the Packers seem to play better on holidays?)
While there have only been 17 games played on Christmas, it would be noticeable if the NFL decided to stop having games scheduled on those days. But football isn’t the only sport to have a spot on TV during the holidays. For example, the NBA has secured its spot on Christmas Day for almost 60 years and it is when regular season games are being played. And college basketball also takes part in this tradition with the Runnin’ Utes playing in Hawaii on Christmas Day.
Again, is it just me, or does it seem like every big event in the sports world is played on major holidays? Father’s Day marks the beginning of the U.S. Open men’s golf tournament — if your dad is like mine, watching a golf tournament is exactly what he wants to do on Father’s Day — and Halloween has the potential of having a World Series game played on that day.
It’s just tradition. Whether it’s a baseball game, hockey game, a college bowl game, preseason, midseason or postseason, there is always a sport to be played on holidays.
How can you not turn on the TV after Thanksgiving dinner and watch your favorite team defeat whoever they are playing that day? Or grab a beer with your dad and watch the beginning of the U.S Open men’s golf tournament on Father’s Day — which, quite frankly, is not a sport I would watch.
I don’t like change and I don’t like breaking tradition. Every year, I always eat my mom’s pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas; it’s the best, so why change it up? Just like with my pie, why would sports stop playing on holidays?
I don’t think there is one family out there that doesn’t watch some sort of sporting event on the holidays, so that is why I think playing games on holidays should continue on — maybe even become a tradition for another family, if not already.