Sports and holidays seem to be a good mix for sports owners. I’m not a big believer in certainties, but this one is as close as it gets to money in the bank. Without a doubt in my mind, if it wasn’t profitable, the owners wouldn’t keep doing it. Just follow the money.
Let’s start with the hard court. It’s been going on for so long (since 1947) that we don’t even think twice anymore about watching the NBA on Christmas Day.
The other major sports leagues look at the Christmas period a bit differently. The NHL gives their players three days off (December 24, 25, 26) while the NFL will only play games on Christmas Day if Christmas falls on a Sunday - sticking to their normal big day of games.
And it’s not only Christmas. The NFL owns the American Thanksgiving, playing three games on that one day. It’s become a tradition for many American families to incorporate the football games within the whole family Thanksgiving festivities- or the festivities are fitted around the games - that’s how powerful the pull of the NFL has become down south.
Adding to the football mania are the seven NCAA football bowl games that hit the airwaves on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
We are not too far off. Canada’s Boxing Day kick off to the World Junior hockey tourney is a big deal here in Canada as is the traditional New Year’s Eve game Team Canada plays every single year. Or you can look at all the September Labour Day Classics that happen every year in the CFL.
Even Remembrance Day is not immune to a day off for pro sports as this year the NHL played a couple of games on this solemn day as did the NBA with six contests.
It’s unfortunate that we are playing games on every traditional holiday out there. Mind you, I don’t have much sympathy for the athletes, they are compensated well enough many times over.
It’s the people on the periphery that usually feel financial pressure to work - the concession workers, ticket takers, security personnel, TV production people - all the people involved somehow, someway in bringing the event to us, the live and TV audience.
The desire to supply the fan with their sports fix is almost insatiable, and a holiday has now become more of an opportunity for sports teams to market themselves than a day to reflect and relax.