Thanksgiving Day in America has been synonymous with a big Detroit Lion’s NFL game for more than 80 years now. It has become an intrinsic part of American culture and we investigate why a sporting event has become a part of a secular celebration.
It originated as a marketing gimmick
College football teams from Princeton and Yale historically had an annual traditional of playing football matches on Thanksgiving Day since 1876. However, G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Lions and radio station owner, set up the first Thanksgiving Day game in 1934 in an attempt to boost attendance to Lions games. The crowd at the stadium and the sheer number of radio audience prompted Richards to have a Lions game on every Thanksgiving Day.
It provides a sense of tradition to Americans
Being a nation of immigrants, American does not have a culture that is rooted in millennia old traditions. Traditions like watching a Lions game on Thanksgiving gives them a sense of tradition and of a link to their history.
It makes a lot of people a lot of money
Every year, advertisers, performers and players make a lot of money from the audience that the traditional Lion’s thanksgiving day game brings in. combined with the money that stadium audience pays to be a part of a traditional event, it a financially beneficial tradition for a lot of people.
It gives people something to look forward to
The rules of thanksgiving in America are not as well defined as they are for most harvest festivals in the Christian world. Traditionally, thanksgiving holidays required people to go to church and listen to special sermons and attend special services before the feast. In America, thanksgiving has trickled down to being a holiday that is focused on forced family reunions and a lavish feast. However, having a big definitive football game on allows people to look forward to an easy going group activity.
It gave men something to do while women cooked the feast
The reason why the big Lion’s thanksgiving game gained popularity in America was because men did not have any role in the holiday. The feast was traditionally supposed to be prepared by women of a household. Since it was a family holiday and men had nothing to do, they tuned into the game to make it look like they were an active participant in the holiday.