Football is a way of life in our household! Well, for me it is. My wife and kids humor me but they all know that we are supposed to eat, drink and breathe the New York Giants around our home.
My obsession with the NFL started out when I was a young child. On Thanksgiving Day, while my mother was preparing a late day feast, she and her boyfriend would watch football. It was an annual tradition to watch the football games on Thanksgiving Day and while the games were being played, her boyfriend would tell us stories about the players, the history of the NFL and about the game of football itself. My love for the game got passed on to me because of our Thanksgiving Day ritual.
I understand tradition. Our family has created some great traditions that have been passed on to us by our parents and grandparents. Each holiday holds a special connection between our past, our present and, hopefully, our future. I hope that one day my children will be telling their kids about Thanksgiving Day and how I shared my vast wealth of knowledge and history of the NFL with them as a part of our Thanksgiving custom. But, alas, I think the Thanksgiving Day tradition of watching, enjoying and loving NFL football may end up being a distant memory of my childhood that loses significance in my kid’s ever changing world.
Over the past six or seven years, I have emailed a suggestion to the NFL on how to adjust the Thanksgiving Day games. My adaptation is simple; change the NFL schedule so that Detroit and Dallas are not guaranteed a game on Thanksgiving Day. My idea for a new Thanksgiving format is simply to have a rematch of the previous years Conference Championship Games.
The NFL has a dedicated audience and NFL fans have grown weary of watching the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, over the past decade, Dallas and Detroit have been poor performing teams and having both teams play on Thanksgiving Day has detracted from a day that should be filled with quality football games.
By adopting my format or by rotating the Thanksgiving Day games amongst all thirty-two teams (as former NFL coach Bill Cowher suggested on the CBS pre-game show this past Sunday), the NFL has the ability to inject more life into its fan base. The NFL could bring more people and new fans into the fold with great, entertaining games that hold the audience until the last minute of every single game on Thanksgiving. It would allow fathers like me to share the stories, the history and the passion we have for professional football with our children because without a format change, my children have no interest in the lopsided and uneventful games that have been pitifully played in Dallas and Detroit over the past few years.
In the past four years, I have learned more about Thomas the Tank Engine, Pokemon, Dora the Explorer, the Care Bears, Nintendo DS, as well as the many new outside games and activities that interest my children on Thanksgiving Day instead of teaching them about the NFL. I don’t mind learning about what my kids love to do in their spare time but the memories I have of my childhood and the tradition of Thanksgiving being a football day is fading with each passing year. The Thanksgiving I knew as a child consisted of “family, food and football” but as we entered the new millennium, football is starting to get dropped from the equation because the current schedule of playing games in Dallas and Detroit is antiquated.
I implore the NFL to change the schedule soon or the Thanksgiving Day traditions of yesteryear will become a distant memory; part of my glory days! There are so many more options today than when I was a child. Cable and satellite television, DVDs, and Video have diluted the prospects for entertainment. When I was a child, there were very few choices for us to divert our attention from the NFL on Thanksgiving Day. Today, in a market that has literally thousands of choices; people are turning off games that are being played in Dallas and Detroit because the teams have been poorly managed over the past decade and it has literally translated into bad entertainment.
The NFL has the ability to change the Thanksgiving format and bring truly entertaining sporting events into our homes on Thanksgiving Day so that we can share the excitement of these games with our friends and our children. But instead of embracing the opportunity and adapting to the changing times, the NFL has decided to stick with a worn out tradition.
Once again, I too understand tradition. Family tradition is about spending time together and enjoying each others company. Parents and children will spend Thanksgiving Day with one another doing something of interest to everyone in the family, but how that interest and attention is focused is up to the excitement of the opportunity. If the NFL cannot buy into this concept, then whether it’s our kids DVDs, their trains, or their books, our families will find something else to do on Thanksgiving Day so we can spend time with the ones we love; for better or worse, we will adapt.