The holidays are a time for people to unwind and relax with their family. They’re also a time to sit back and enjoy America’s best athletes on the biggest stages.
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In 1934 the Detroit Lions would play the first ever Thanksgiving Day NFL game, a loss to the Chicago Bears. The tradition would continue indefinitely, and become a staple for the people of Michigan. In later years, the NFL would welcome the Dallas Cowboys to the Thanksgiving table, their tradition starting in 1966. The NFL now has a third game on Thanksgiving too, so there is plenty of football to go along with the Thanksgiving feast.
The Lions are 37-43-2 on Thanksgiving after losing to the Bears 16-14 this year. The Cowboys are 31-22-1 on Thanksgiving after their most recent loss to the Raiders. The Bills and Saints joined the Thanksgiving slate this year, with the Bills taking the win 31-6. The Cowboys vs. Raiders game drew in the largest crowd for a regular season game in over 30 years.
Other sports also share the holiday spotlight. In 1947, the NBA would start a tradition of Christmas Day game, their own holiday extravaganza. The tradition has been held every year since with the exception of the 1998 lockout season.
The New York Knicks have seen the most Christmas Day action after starting the tradition in the 1947 season. The team has now played 53 games on the holiday. Kobe Bryant played a total of 16 games on Christmas Day, the most of any player in the sports history.
The National Hockey League is not to be forgotten either. The NHL has played on Christmas Day before, but the last such game was in 1971. The league even played on Thanksgiving Day in the past before the Thanksgiving Showdown was revived in 2011. The NHL now has it’s Thanksgiving game played on Black Friday.
This year, the New York Rangers met the Boston Bruins in the showdown. The NHL has also established it’s own tradition on New Year’s Day. The Winter Classic, established in 2008, has become a lasting tradition that sees two NHL teams meet outdoors. The most recent teams to meet in the Winter Classic were the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators in 2019.
Outside of professional sports, college athletes often see holiday action too. Notably the Rose Bowl was College Football’s tradition on New Year’s Day. There are plenty of bowl games to go around though. Some games are played on New Year’s Eve, and even Christmas Day. The Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Cotton Bowl are some of the oldest traditions in sports, starting as early as the 1900′s.
Sports traditions bring people together during the holidays, and no matter who you root for, we’re wishing you Happy Holidays!