Football And Thanksgiving: A Tale Longer Than Time

For many families, a game of football on Thanksgiving is about as common as an apple pie to round out the feast and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. As we approach the holiday it felt only right to dig into where and why this tradition started.

The first Thanksgiving Day collegiate football game dates back to the 19th century. On November 30, 1876, in Hoboken, New Jersey, Yale defeated Princeton 2-0. The game brought in close to 1,000 fans and the weather was apparently cold and rainy. noted that after this game, the collegiate match-ups on Thanksgiving became a tradition. “Later in the 19th century, the universities of Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and others began playing football on the holiday.” The National Football League (NFL) entered the scene in 1920. On Thanksgiving Day, 1920, the Akron Pros defeated the Canton Bulldogs, 7-0.

Thanksgiving didn’t actually become a national holiday until 1863, which means it took 13 years for the holiday to become one with football games at the forefront in some homes.

In states across the country, football shows up in the form of backyard tag football, high school rivalry games, NFL on TVs and more. This Thanksgiving, share with TeamSnap how you and your family are celebrating the holiday. Football or no football, we’d love to know. If you do plan on spending Thanksgiving on the couch watching sports, here’s your complete guide to when the games are happening!

World Cup Games

  • Switzerland vs. Cameroon: Fs1 5AM ET
  • Uruguay vs. South Korea: FS1 at 8:00AM ET
  • Portugal vs. Ghana: FOX 11AM ET
  • Brazil vs. Serbia: FOX 2PM


  • Bills @ Lions: CBS 1230PM
  • Giants at Cowboys: FOX 430PM
  • Patriots at Vikings: NBC 820PM

College Football

  • Mississippi State at Ole Miss: ESPN 7PM

National data actively tracking the safe return of youth sports activities

See the map

Create Your Team Today!

It’s Free and Free is Good!