Christmas is Okay For Sports, But Somehow Not Christmas Eve
December 25, 2017

Concluding the seventh year now of writing this silly column, this is the first time that the holiday has fallen on a Monday. Of course, with the exception of a leap year here and there to screw things up, Christmas on a Monday should happen every seven years, so we're due. Because of the holiday, we'll keep this short.

If you are a sports fan, you probably noticed there wasn't much on TV last night. Christmas Eve was a Sunday, and while their was the usual litany of NFL games, there was no NBC Sunday Night game. There's also no pro basketball, college basketball, hockey, or bowl games on Christmas Eve, with one minor exception.

ESPN found a loophole a few years ago, and rightfully has used it to their advantage. They are a sports network after all, so when they figured out that 8pm Eastern was only 2 in the afternoon in Honolulu, the Hawai'i Bowl found a regular home and time slot. Never mind that there was virtually no one that attended the game (crowd shots showed what looked like a team practice). Often times, the University of Hawai'i plays in the Hawai'i Bowl, but this year it was Fresno State, and the Bulldogs pulled off what might be considered a minor upset over the University of Houston.

And while there is still some sort of reverence for sports ignoring Christmas Eve (the only night of the year where you can say that), Christmas Day is another story entirely. Starting at 9am Pacific Time, and lasting for 13 consecutive hours, you can watch five NBA basketball games. Monday Night Football is not taking Christmas Night off, and with NBC losing a Sunday Night game to Christmas Eve, they make it up this afternoon with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans. ESPN2 even has four college basketball games from Hawai'i. Some team called USC got to the tournament title game.

So why is Christmas Eve is a sacred cow for sports and not Christmas Day? It can't be for the athletes—some of them (the better ones in the NBA) are forced to play on Christmas, and many are probably traveling the night before. That leaves either the fans or the networks as the reason, and how many people do you know (and you probably did it yourself) watched It's a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth straight year? It seems to be a good thing that sports takes a night off, but if you're not waiting four hours for Clarence to get his wings, you might be watching Elf, or Scrooged, or you totally give up and turn on the Yule Log. Not that that's so horrible to do once a year. I personally wanted to watch Bad Santa, but couldn't find a channel that had it.

Wait 'til next year (week): I was originally going to write my 'Year in Review' today, but not wanting to go there, or be a Grinch or a Humbug, we'll wait to talk about how lousy 2017 was until next week. Merry Christmas everybody.

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