The entire concept of the NFL playing games on Christmas Day didn’t really sink in for me last year. Sure, the Colts played the Cardinals, and the Packers took on the Browns, but these inter-conference affairs were easy to ignore. For 2022 the league is bringing a three game salvo, and I’m convinced we need to do everything in our power to ensure this experiment never rears its head again.
For 2022 we have the Packers vs. Dolphins at 1 p.m., Broncos vs. Rams at 4:30 p.m. and Buccaneers vs. Cardinals at 8:20 p.m. It’s a 10 hour onslaught of football being launched right at the NBA for essentially no reason, and it’s horrible because the NFL slate this year all hold to be really, really good games.
We must put a stop to this, and I’m prepared to show my work.
No. 1: Let the NBA have its own damn day
The NBA and Christmas Day have been synonymous since 1947 when the association first started playing games on December 25th. What began as a way to simply fill in games on the schedule has evolved into basketball’s biggest holiday.
The modern five game schedule flowing from East to West is absolutely perfection. Some of my fondest memories as a young adult didn’t come from meals or presents, but us all gathering around in a food coma, kids playing with their toys, while everyone dozed or watched the NBA. It let people who aren’t normal sports fans see how far basketball had come, learn about the stars of the modern game. I remember my stepmother’s father, a die-hard UNC fan, being absolutely blown away watching the Mavericks in 2003 — equally spellbound by watching Dirk Nowitzki, and telling stories of watching Antawn Jamison play at the Dean Dome.
If the NFL was on, the TV probably would have been tuned to football instead, because more people in the family were invested in football. That’s just a damn shame.
No. 2: Christmas football takes away from Thanksgiving
We already have a perfectly good NFL holiday already. Football was made for Thanksgiving, and just as the Christmas is woven into the fabric of the NBA, Thanksgiving is with the NFL. Just as New Year’s Day is made for college football.
If we take every fall/winter national holiday and make it NFL time, it stops being special. Hell, my 5-year-old understood this concept when I explained to her why it can’t be her birthday every day — so why can’t the NFL?
With another NFL holiday just a month after the first it loses that magic of all gathering around and watching Thanksgiving football. Sure, the games will still be on — but it absolutely loses some of that magic.
No. 3: Nobody should be mad on Christmas
It truly does not matter whether you recognize Christmas, celebrate it, or have your own traditions. It’s generally accepted that the entire holiday season is a time of peace and goodwill. There’s just something magic in the air around the season that doesn’t have anything to do with religious beliefs, people just seem… happier.
Late December in the NBA is relatively low stakes. Yes, it sucks if your team loses — but it’s one of 82 games not even halfway through the season. Any team can recover from one loss, so the sting of defeat really isn’t that bad if it does happen on Christmas Day.
The NFL, on the other hand, is a late-December disaster. This is Week 16, with the playoffs right around the corner, in a league where everything can hinge on a single game. We’re not talking about some throwaway contests here either, with five of the six teams in 2022 being accepted locks to contend in their respective conferences, and the Dolphins who have shown a knack for swinging above their weight class.
There is a very real chance the holiday tranquility of your home could be ruined by your mom or uncle screaming swear words when Mason Crosby misses a 37-yard field goal in the dying moments of a game with home field advantage on the line. Even worse, everyone heading to the game and just derailing the holiday as a whole.
I propose we keep our traditions intact
Nobody asked for this. Nobody wanted the NFL on Christmas. The league decided to force it down our throats in an effort to squeeze more juice out of the cash orange. Can anyone honestly say that either Christmas or the NFL will be better for having football on December 25th? You can’t.
None of us have any power in this scenario — at least not individually. However, if we agree not to watch, to refuse to tune in, then maybe it can have an impact. I’m not expecting everyone to get on board, but any significant hit to the ratings will pressure the NFL to get rid of these stupid Christmas games, let the NBA have its holiday back, and ensure Thanksgiving remains special.