Why is Thanksgiving Day Football Such a Big Deal?


Sophia Robertson, Editor-in-Chief

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and many people across the nation are planning to meet with family, cook big meals, and watch football. While watching football is a common tradition for Thanksgiving, Americans are typically unfamiliar with how this tradition started. The first college football game was played in 1869, and it was popularized in the 1880s. It was at this time when football got its own unique identity and became a different sport than rugby.

The first Thanksgiving Day football game was in 1876, and it was played between Yale and Princeton. However, it wasn’t until decades later that Thanksgiving Day football became popular. When the NFL was formed in 1920, it struggled to separate itself from other football leagues, so in hopes of boosting attendance they scheduled a game on Thanksgiving Day in 1934. With most people having Thanksgiving off of work, many Americans spent their free time watching football. Since then, it has become a common tradition to watch football on Thanksgiving and play the sport within individual communities. Being such a cliche, Thanksgiving Day football made its way onto the show Friends in one of the most iconic episodes, “The One With the Football.”

Most colleges and high school football teams do not participate in the tradition, but there are three major NFL games being played this Thanksgiving. At 12:30, the Chicago Bears play the Detroit Lions. The next game, the Las Vegas Raiders versus the Dallas Cowboys, is at 4:30. The last game begins at 8:20, and in this game the Buffalo Bills will play the New Orleans Saints. Remember to give thanks this Thanksgiving for family and friends, food and freedom, and – of course – football.


Photo Credits: TV Fanatic