This Thursday, as American families pass around the stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and most importantly the turkey (or Tofurky, if that’s what you’re into), many will be watching one of the greatest traditions our country has: Thanksgiving football.
Yes, Thanksgiving is about being thankful for all the good things in our life, like family and friends, and having more people follow you on Twitter than you follow, but many Americans – more than 30 million – were thankful to watch the much-maligned Dallas Cowboys seek out a win against a woeful Miami Dolphins team last Thanksgiving day.
Football on Thanksgiving has become almost as synonymous with turkey day as the family bickering over who gets that last piece of pie. In fact, the tradition of football on Thanksgiving dates all the way back to 1892 (the first year of professional football), when the Lehigh Mountain Hawks defeated the Pittsburgh Athletic Club 21-0 and the Allegheny Athletic Association beat the Cleveland Athletic Club 4-0.
From there, America’s love affair with football on Thanksgiving grew.
Since then, Thanksgiving has always been a day for football. Numerous high school rivalries across the country are played on Thanksgiving, including “The Turkey Day Game,” which pits Webster Grove against Kirkwood. The two Missouri rivals have faced off over 100 times, and over 70 times on Thanksgiving. The game has grown to be such a big deal that the St. Louis Rams have yet to play a game on Thanksgiving because of the potential conflict.
The most famous football Thanksgiving festivity come from watching the historically dreadful Detroit Lions attempt to shine in their one shot in the spotlight during he NFL season. The Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1934, and have won just 33 times since. Due to Detroit’s ineptitude, the NFL will do anything to get you to watch, including throwback uniforms, scheduling great teams to destroy the Lions and booking ridiculous halftime performances. Kid Rock will be performing this year. Watching the Lions lose has become a quintessential Thanksgiving tradition.
To me, there are few things more American than football and Thanksgiving. Both originated here, and seem to embody America. Let’s not kid ourselves, to most people Thanksgiving is about eating much more than you are supposed to, spending time with family and watching oversized football players attempt to concuss opposing quarterbacks.
So this Thanksgiving, while your relatives bother you about your time at college, and as you push the waistband of your pants to the extreme, flip on some football, and take part in a great American tradition. You won’t regret it.