Thanksgiving football: a culture like no other


Photo by Justin Greenzaid.

Extending his arm back while throwing a football, WCHS junior plays football on a local field in anticipation for his Mud Bowl game on Thanksgiving.

By Justin Greenzaid, Sports Editor

As the fall season rushes in and crispy brown leaves begin to drop from trees, it becomes time for the nationwide holiday of Thanksgiving. For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all that they have. It is also a time to indulge in the All-American sport of football.

Last year the most-watched NFL game of the season was on Thanksgiving, when the Washington Football Team versus Dallas Cowboys game had a whopping 30.3 million viewers, according to FOX Sports. It is safe to say that millions of those viewers also played football that same day, including students at WCHS. 

“I love playing sports so Thanksgiving football is always something I look forward to when celebrating the holiday, along with the amazing food and spending time with family,” WCHS senior Andrew Silver said.

Since Thanksgiving as a whole has many different traditions depending on the family, the annual football game played between companions can also be very different. Some may call it the “Mud Bowl” because sometimes the games are played on extremely muddy fields. Some may play with family, others may play with friends, or sometimes even both. Some may even play in tournaments with larger groups of friends and family to find the best team each year. 

No matter how one decides to play, everyone involved is bound to have tons of fun. 

“Thanksgiving football is something I started doing with my family when I was very young and now play with my friends now,” WCHS junior Wyatt Dunn said. “It’s super fun to get together with everyone on a special day and just play.”

The traditional Thanksgiving football games have been an American staple for decades and have been depicted in the greatest cartoons, most notably the Charlie Brown cartoons spanning back to the 1950s. The history behind the tradition spans back to when the first Thanksgiving football game was held between Yale and Princeton in 1876. 

Nowadays, the NFL schedules multiple games throughout the day of Thanksgiving so that when one is not playing football or cooking turkey, they can sit down and enjoy the games. Each year, the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are among two of the teams that get to play in the special Thanksgiving day games. This entices the fans of these franchises to celebrate even more.

“I especially love to watch Thanksgiving football because I’m a huge Cowboys fan and it’s a Cowboys tradition to host a game every year so I get to watch it with my whole family and cheer them on,” Silver said.

While adults fight to stock their carts with the best turkey and side dishes, teenagers fight to find an open field to play their Thanksgiving games. Sometimes, the very popular local parks and fields at WCHS itself are entirely crowded on Thanksgiving day by people playing their football games. Finding ideal space can sometimes be hard which is why many have to compensate and play at muddy, torn-up fields.

“When I think of ideal Thanksgiving football conditions, I think of a nice fall day with the leaves falling out of trees. About 60 degrees with a slight breeze. Perfect sweatshirt and sweatpants weather to enjoy the holiday,” Silver said. 

Thanksgiving offers the perfect combination of laziness and activity as one can both play games of football in person and slump on the couch to watch live games. The holiday is almost thought of as a celebration of football for many as that is what millions of Americans prioritize on the holiday.

Playing the American sport is also a great way to burn calories before a night of feasting. This is one of the main reasons some adults choose to get in a football game during the day before their big meals. 

I love seeing all my friends get together to play football during the day, it makes me very thankful actually,” Dunn said.  “And then capping the day off by watching  the NFL games in the afternoon with my entire family is also great. The energy is great and everyone has fun.”