Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and, of course, football. The sport has taken its place right alongside turkey as an integral part of the holiday. Whether you're watching your favorite pro or college team on TV, walking into town to watch your high school team play its ancient rival or just tossing the ball around in the front yard with friends and relatives, Thanksgiving is not complete without a hearty helping of football.
Pro: The first professional football game on Thanksgiving Day took place in 1902. Since then, the NFL has picked up on the tradition and now holds three games on Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions have played a home game on Thanksgiving since 1934; the Dallas Cowboys since 1966. The Lions and Cowboys still always play two of the three Thanksgiving games. Even though not every fan in the country roots for the Lions or Cowboys, many football fans tune in to take part in the tradition of the games.
College: Some of the biggest college football rivalry games of the year take place over Thanksgiving weekend. Many in-state schools play against each other, such as Texas vs. Texas A&M, Florida vs. Florida State, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State and Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. Many students and alumni build these games into their holiday travel plans, making them an annual part of the Thanksgiving celebration.
High School: Although no one knows for sure, it is believed that the first-ever organized football game played on Thanksgiving was between Wellesley and Needham High Schools in Massachusetts. These schools first played each other on Thanksgiving in 1882 and have played more than 120 times since. Another big Thanksgiving Day game is Phillipsburg, NJ vs. Easton, PA. These teams have played each other on Thanksgiving since 1906, sometimes on national television! Even if these schools don't draw too many fans throughout the season, thousands of alumni and family members will come out to cheer on their local teams on Thanksgiving Day.
Rarely does the final score matter in these games. The most important thing is that people are enjoying the time they spend together and, win or lose, are thankful for their friends and family.
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