|Thanksgiving is the holiday to savor|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
I read where in ancient Egypt, they had harvest festivals that pre-dated our American Thanksgivings by a couple thousand years, and that at those festivals, sports were a critical part of the equation.
Cool! To know that Cleopatra once dined on the "Turducken" on the fourth Thursday of November while checking out some football is an immensely satisfying bit of human trivia.
You can almost imagine the Time Travel now, John Madden breaking down some Detroit Lions game film/Thanksgiving Day "Turducken" with the Egyptian queen:
Cleopatra: I am bored with this Turducken. I want to meet your Monday Night Football cohort. He looks like the handsome Marc Anthony.
Madden: You must be talking about Al Michaels. He's a big fan of the Turducken. He's also been to Egypt, on one of those paid European vacations that ABC gave him, on account of "Monday Night Football" being such a big hit ...
Ah, how we love the commonality of the human experience.
Let's be honest: Thanksgiving in ancient Egypt was no different than Thanksgiving in America, 2003 -- epic amounts of food, plenty of recreational gambling on the local sporting events, and gluttony on a scale where you're forced, eventually, to loosen the rope belt on your tunic by nightfall.
That's our topic this week, dear readers: Thanksgiving as Sports Holiday, and how it rates compared to our other American Sports Holidays.
Because let's face it -- Thanksgiving is the 1-seed in any holiday Bracket. Who doesn't love Thanksgiving? What's not to love? Food, football, family -- and exactly zero cumbersome religious imagery.
It got me to thinking. Is there any way any other holiday could compare?
You wouldn't think so, but let's perform a Page 2 Scouting Report, just for the record. Forthwith, the holidays, their pros, their cons, their ultimate standing in the American TV-watching consciousness:
Cons: How can the NFL ruin an otherwise Perfect Holiday by staging the annual tilts on artificial turf? On the very day that grown men around this great country engage in mud-splattered glory at the local yard in the Neighborhood Mud Bowl, the NFL gives us two games on bogus turf? God bless the tradition of the Lions and the Cowboys, but can somebody point us to an actual patch of grass? I say either force Dallas and Detroit to change their playing surfaces, or switch the Thanksgiving rota to Green Bay and San Francisco, two creaky old stadiums featuring the Earth's natural sod.
Cons: Who watches sports on Christmas Day? Let's face it -- the dirty little secret about Christmas is that the holiday is over at noon. It reaches a near-peak at midnight on Christmas Eve, absolutely peaks at 9 a.m. when all the presents are opened ... and the rest of the day is a morass of family dysfunctionality, excessive alcohol and excuses to leave early. Alas -- the Yao-Shaq duel will play out as you drive home from Mom and Dad's in the darkness, stewing in silence over either a real or perceived family sleight.
New Year's Day
Cons: This year, Jan. 1 means the following: Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Outback Bowl, Gator Bowl, Capital One Bowl. Are you kidding me? The storied Rose and Orange Bowls joining this cast of understudies? What hath God wraught? Plus, no NFL playoff games. We have to wait until Jan. 4 for the Sugar Bowl, the BCS' version of what we used to call "New Year's Day". Bummer, man. This is truly one of those when-I-was-a-kid-I-walked-two-miles-through-the-snow moments.
St. Patrick's Day
Cons: No NFL. No meaningful NBA action. And oceans of booze can only mean tidal waves of headaches on March 18.
Fourth of July
Cons: The NBA Finals have only recently concluded, making you grouchy that you spent nine months watching action on the hardwood where men only shoot 43 percent from the field. Plus, there's that nettlesome Fireworks Night -- traffic jams, plus the specter of a stray Roman Candle firing into your Upper Deck section and setting your cargo shorts ablaze.
Now -- go eat some bird, would you, please?
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes every Monday for Page 2.