The History Behind The Thanksgiving Day Game

Any football fan knows that the Thanksgiving Games are some of the most entertaining games to watch, and even more so to attend. But how many football fans actually know when this tradition originated?

Most people would be surprised to find that the Thanksgiving game process did not start at the professional level or even college level. In fact, the tradition started at the high school level. in the 1880’s several American high schools decided that they liked the idea of playing their favorite sport in the morning and then going home to a big family feast in the afternoon. The process has slowly worked its way into mainstream American Culture. It has even spread to the Canadian Football League, but of course on their Canadian Thanksgiving.

An annual holiday game, or “turkey ball” goes even further back in history than the start of football. This kind of game originated in Scotland in the 14th century. Prison mates started this game but were playing with an actual turkey. This then continued as pick up games on a certain day each year. When people got together for this holiday, they would play this American sport instead of the prison version played by their ancestors. This tradition was then passed on to the amateur football leagues, and has, since then passed on to the professional leagues.

The first National Football League team to play a Thanksgiving Day game was the Detroit Lions in 1934 against the Chicago Bears. It was completely a publicity stunt from G.A. Richards, the owner of the team. He felt that his football team was competing way too much in the headlines with the Tigers, the city’s baseball team.

The first NFL Thanksgiving Game. Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears. Photo courtesy of Google images.

This year the tradition is continued. The Houston Texans at Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots at the New York Jets are the contenders for this years Thanksgiving game.

Which teams are you planning on watching this year? Are you attending any high school football holiday games?

Sources for this article are Matt Cail and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Posted on November 15, 2012, in Sports, Top Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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