Thanksgiving. A day that makes my pants feel tight just thinking about it, has its roots deep routed in tradition.
What started as a day to celebrate the harvest with family and friends was originally focused on food and family. One newer element that has squeezed its way into the American patchwork is the game of football.
Since the NFL’s inception in 1922, one to three games have been played on Thanksgiving day. Both the way the game is played and watched have evolved over the years thanks to the advent of new technology to enhance the sport and the way its watched.
It’s 1920. You and your family trek down to the stadium hoping that you don’t freeze while sitting in the bleachers. Perhaps there’s someone announcing the game, but tuning into to the radio play-by-play was in its infancy and had not yet become a widespread practice.
Fast forward to 1934. Football founders realize that the Detroit Tigers baseball team are dominating the newspaper sports pages and in an attempt to promote football, sports team owners decide to invite the Chicago Bears to play a game on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions.
They also enlist the NBC news corporation to broadcast the game on multiple stations, creating the first national broadcast of a sports game. The radio promotion worked so well, the NFL sold all 26,000 tickets available a month in advance of the rest of the games.
The Thanksgiving football tradition is born.
Five years later, the first football game is broadcasted on NBC television in September 1939 when Waynesburg College played Fordham University. TV has revolutionized the way we watch and enjoy football on Thanksgiving day.
No longer do we have to leave the house to watch the game, the game now comes to us. And televisions themselves have come a long way since 1934. What began as small black and white TVs in the home has since supersized with trends showing that buyers are moving towards 32-inch LCD TVs.
The Internet allows fans to check in on multiple games at once with real-time score updates and clips. As TV consumption moves towards Internet TV, fans can watch live games while accessing the Internet to check on stats, history, and player bios to bring a whole new dimension to our sports fanaticism. Systems like Roku and Google TV also give us the option to access historical games to relive our favorite Thanksgiving day games.
And if all this wasn’t enough connectivity, social networking and sports apps allow fans to instantly check what other fans, teams, and even players are saying in real-time on Twitter and Facebook. Wondering what your favorite player’s post-game thoughts are? Maybe you can catch him on Twitter.
When it comes down to it, football has helped Americans rally around a sport and partake in good old sportsmanship and camaraderie.
With advents like bigger, better TVs and more social connectivity revolving around the sport, technology has helped families relate to other fans around the nation, only enhancing the sense of pride and love for the game.
This only becomes a problem when fans become a victim of social connectivity and are sucked into the Internet abyss, distracting them from true Thanksgiving traditions.
Yes, connectivity and media consumption is great that is, until the Turkey is served.
So, to that I say, pass the sweet potatoes, please.