It’s hard for many Americans to imagine a Thanksgiving without football. This kind of sport is almost as synonymous with Thanksgiving as turkey, pie, and stuffing. So, how did this yearly tradition come about on the fourth Thursday of each November? Why do Americans watch football on Thanksgiving? Learn more about Thanksgiving football games history and you will get the answer!
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What is Thanksgiving football games history?
The tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving
Many people consider that watching football on Turkey Day is a modern tradition. In fact, Americans have been taking to the gridiron on Thanksgiving Day since the 19th century.
Thanksgiving football games history
History of Thanksgiving football games
While researching the history of Thanksgiving football games, some people want to know when the first Thanksgiving football game took place.
The history of Thanksgiving football games was marked with the very first football game on Thanksgiving. The earliest Thanksgiving Day football was played in Philadelphia in 1869. That year’s November 17 edition of the Evening Telegraph newspaper indicated that a football match between twenty-two players of the Germantown Cricket Club and the Young America Cricket Club would be held on Thanksgiving Day on the grounds of the Germantown Club.
This landmark contest was organized six years after former President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official national holiday of the United States. In addition, the game was only two weeks after the Rutgers-Princeton competition which is largely considered the first-ever football game.
What is the history of Thanksgiving football games?
After that time, Thanksgiving Day football was popular. At the collegiate level, Princeton University and Yale University played football games on Thanksgiving from 1876 to 1881. This was known to be a time when football was still on its way to developing from a rugby hybrid into the king sport we know today. And the holiday later was chosen as the traditional date for the Intercollegiate Football Association championship game.
Gradually, the Universities of Michigan and Chicago also developed a well-known holiday rivalry. By the late 1890s, there were thousands of football games organized each Thanksgiving.
This tradition quickly grew when many high schools also participated in Thanksgiving football every year. One of the most outstanding matchups at that time was when Massachusetts high schools Boston Latin (the oldest school in the United States) and the English High School of Boston faced off on Turkey Day in 1887. It is known to be the longest continuous Thanksgiving Day rivalry in the country.
When professional football leagues first came around the turn of the century, they quickly adopted the football tradition of Thanksgiving Day. Many of them saved the holiday for their title games as well as other big matchups, but when the National Football League (NFL) was established in 1920, this organization started hosting as many as six contests each year when Thanksgiving came around.
Thanksgiving football games history – NFL Thanksgiving football
On November 25, 1920, the first professional football games on Thanksgiving were held. However, there were no games taking place on the holiday from 1941-44 due to World War II.
Thanksgiving football games organized by NFL
Currently, the NFL only organizes three Thanksgiving games in November, two of which always feature the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Lions have been known as a fixture of Thanksgiving Day since 1934 when owner George A. Richards arranged a holiday game to draw attention to his fledgling franchise, which was normally overshadowed by the Detroit Tigers.
Discover Thanksgiving football games history
Richards was also a radio station owner, which made it easier for him to use his industry contacts to ensure that the first game would be broadcast on 94 stations nationwide. Although the Lions lost the matchup to the Chicago Bears, the football Thanksgiving tradition still remained.
A similar script was made by Dallas general manager Tex Schramm in 1966. It took place when he secured an annual holiday game for the Cowboys. Once again, that move brought a huge success. The Lions and Cowboys have become Thanksgiving staples.
Another tasty Thanksgiving tradition organized by the NFL in 1989 was the Turkey Leg Award. It is commonly known as an NFL tradition that puts aside serious competition. Instead, the tradition emphasizes the festivity of the holiday season.
Wonderful Thanksgiving Gifts For Your Loved Ones
Gift-giving is a very meaningful part when it comes to the Thanksgiving holiday. As Turkey Day is fast approaching, have you found thoughtful Thanksgiving gift ideas for the important people in your life. Don’t worry if you find it hard to come up with a perfect gift. The following items are great ones that will impress them!
WKRP Turkey Drop Shirt As God Is My Witness Thanksgiving Shirt$15.99
Turkey Nurse Shirt Stethoscope Happy Thanksgiving$15.99
Teacherlife Shirt Thankful For My Little Turkeys$15.99
Thanksgiving Teacher Shirt I Teach The Cutest Little Turkey$15.99
Rex Dinosaur Shirt Rawr Turkey I Try To Be Good Take After Grandma$15.99
Rex Dinosaur Shirt Rawr Turkey Happy Thanksgiving$15.99
Becoming a staple when it comes to Thanksgiving traditions, NFL franchises’ early plan to gain popularity by organizing games on the holiday seems to have paid off. Perhaps there’s nothing more wonderful for Americans than having a happy Thanksgiving holiday that comes with gratitude, family, food, and ends with screaming football fans.