I imagine that a good percentage of Americans watched at least part of a sporting event over Thanksgiving weekend. I’d bet that the percentage is even higher among those reading this newsletter. I spent Thanksgiving at my cousin’s house, and I know several times I went in and sat down on the couch to check out the football game. It’s what most of us do. I also look at holiday games from a different perspective.
I’ve never asked a professional athlete their thoughts on having a game on a major holiday. They might love it. When I worked in athletics, however, I did not enjoy the experience, and I know that a lot of the student-athletes that I worked with did not enjoy it either.
When there is a game on a holiday, most people don’t think about all of the staff that must work that day, as well. From the media relations staff, athletic trainers, management, security, concessions, and many more. All of these people must leave their families and head to work.
I was fortunate to work in athletics for many year and loved much of it, but I did not enjoy working on holidays. Maine hockey used to play in the Florida College Classic every year. Typically, we’d either leave Christmas Day or bright and early (usually 4:30 a.m.) the day after. I vividly remember eating “Christmas Dinner” in the Philly airport one year. I believe I had pizza as almost everything else was closed. I still remember how difficult that day was. I wanted to be with my family, not sitting in a deserted airport.
I remember being at practice in Florida the day after Christmas and there were some Maine fans there. They commented to me how lucky I was to get to go to Florida for Christmas with the hockey team. To this day, I remember that comment. Yes, I loved many things about my job, but working on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day was not one of them.
No matter what your job is, most people don’t enjoy working on holidays – even if you do work in athletics.
I really applaud the NHL. The did not have any games scheduled for Thanksgiving Day. There are also no NHL games scheduled for December 24, 25, or 26. I’ll continue to watch games on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but when I do I always think about the players and staff who are away from their families on these days that are so special.