Football on Thanksgiving Day has become just as much of a Turkey day tradition as the Macy's Parade, passionate political debates, and food comas. No holiday and sport has a better connection with each other.
But over the past years, the National Basketball Association has been catching up with their string of all day basketball on Christmas Day. NBA Christmas festivities have become better viewing than the Thanksgiving Day football games. Here is why.
Five is more than three.
From a pure number standpoint, the viewing public gets to watch more basketball, with five games starting at noon and ending past midnight, than the three games we get on Thanksgiving. Maybe the reason because the NFL knows people are probably past out asleep by halftime of the night game, but whatever the reason, giving more to the public works in this situation. You could technically wake up and watch basketball literally all day with no pauses outside of timeouts and halftime.
You see better teams.
Yes, Dallas and Detroit are first place teams so it was fun watching them this season. But for the past decade and a half, fans had to sit through two games where they know the quality of the teams playing would be poor.
Seeing as the Lions are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC, they will probably hit another five years of irreverence in a season or two. Christmas basketball, on the other hand, gives us NBA Finals rematches, elite teams playing each other, young teams with rising stars to show the public a look into the future, and Walt Frazier's wardrobe.
Thursday Football isn't the best quality football.
With only three to four games to rest, you can't expect A+ football on Thanksgiving Day. There are exceptions to the rule, but that's what they are, exceptions.
Even in a less strenuous sport like basketball, the commissioner office makes sure players are rested for the nationally televised games. The NBA gives teams Christmas Eve off for rest and family time, giving players one or two days off before their Christmas game. Those extra 24 to 48 hours can be the difference between a great performance and an above average one.
Christmas basketball is great as an adult.
This Christmas, I need socks, sweatpants, and shoes. As children, we would play with our new toys on Christmas and eat candy all day.
But now we're adults and we ask mostly for needs and not wants. Those traditions of playing all day with family has changed to enjoying basketball games and talking and laughing all day with family. It's a new Christmas tradition that is, at least, on the level of Thanksgiving football.