Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Pigskin and Turkey: What Could Be Better?

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Time to Eat | Pictured in Photo: DaRon Bland and Dak Prescott | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sam Hodde

What are you thankful for this year? Have you been able to secure a favorable job?  Has a newborn member joined the family? Romance, school, housing, friends, family, whatever seems right to give thanks to as we near the end of another year. It might seem redundant to have an entire day, dedicated to something we can do all the other minutes of the year. However, sometimes we fail to look back and see the good and a little of the bad that has led us to this moment in time. Time flutters by so fast, that the old adage of missing something until it’s gone becomes reality. This is a day to thank those who have given up a piece of themselves to allow your soul to travel further. It is also a day that carries negative connotations for Native Americans as settlers purloined their lands and dispersed them after they welcomed us on their land. Never mind that history as we are asked to take the day off and celebrate with friends and family while watching either the Macy’s Parade, Charlie Brown, or America’s new pastime, football while munching down on turkey or ham.

Football has always been a huge part of modern-day Thanksgiving. Football is said to have first happened on Thanksgiving in 1869 between two college cricket clubs, the Young America Cricket Club and the Germantown Cricket Club.  Its only mention comes from a Philadelphia newspaper, The Evening Article, published the day before on Nov. 17. However, this is only the first surviving mention and was possibly done way before that day. The sport went from an informal meeting, as everyone had the day off, to slowly becoming a date of importance. However, this becomes muddled, as the dates range from 1876 to 1882 when colleges began to adopt the date for the playing of the championship game against the two best teams in their Intercollegiate Association. However, the one Americans are concerned about is where the NFL fits into this mix.

Two years and two teams stand out: the 1934 Detroit Lions and the 1966 Dallas Cowboys. In both cases, it was the wanting of better attendance and recognition. The ploy worked – since people had the day off, they swarmed both stadiums to watch their teams play. As a result, a tradition was made that both teams would have separate games on Thanksgiving. A smaller tradition is the Detroit Lions facing the Green Bay Packers on the holiday (excluding this year) which has happened 21 times since the Lions began their Thanksgiving streak. Also, since 2005, there has been a third game scheduled so there would be football throughout the day. So, how did the teams fare this year?

The first game of the day was the 22nd match-up between the Lions and the Packers. For the battle of Lake Michigan, the Packers took a 23-6 lead after the first half, and after trying to claw back, the Lions came up short losing 29-22.

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The midday game was between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders where the Cowboys had a lead of 20-10 before halftime. The most surprising part came during halftime when Dolly Parton came out in a Dallas cheerleader outfit and sang her hits “Jolene” and “9 to 5.” This reporter wouldn’t doubt that it was a publicity stunt to promote her new album, Rockstar. At first glance, it seemed Parton was uncomfortable on the stage, only shimmering side to side. In hindsight, it was probably due to a lack of staging space, forcing her to remain between two points of an enlarged star. Ms. Parton then went to renditions of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”. However, this reporter found this funny, as typically in Queen concerts the songs are in the opposite order, starting with “We Will Rock You,” then going into “We Are the Champions.” Regardless, the fans got to see cheerleaders and a country icon sing and dance for 15 minutes. The game didn’t live up to Parton’s hype as it remained 20-10 going into the fourth quarter. when the Cowboys scored 25 unanswered points, letting the final score be 45-10.

The final game was between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. The battle of man vs beast quickly fell to man as the 49ers held a 24-3 score by half time, and by the end defeated the Seahawks 31-13. At the end of the game, players of the 49ers were awarded turkey legs, a tradition created by the late John Madden back in the 80s for the MVP player(s) of their respective games. In fact, the Thanksgiving games were branded as the John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration in honor of his passing.

Like the thrill of seeing your favorite team win a ball game, it is the internal glow of thankfulness that oozes out with each cut of ham or turkey. The thankfulness for having a meal at all. The thankfulness of seeing the stars turn into a blue sky. The thankfulness of hugging loved ones as another year passes. While Thanksgiving might be seen as another consumer stepping stone to Christmas, it’s an important reminder to remember those we hold dear and appreciate the luxuries we are given. Next time you see a cherished loved one or a friend, give a small thanks for their time, as it is something too precious to simply hand out. We will end as we began. What are you thankful for this year?

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