Thanksgiving Football: A Tradition Unlike Any

Blog #5

Section #10

As a spectator, I was given the privilege of viewing two games in which perfectly outlined Edmund Burke and his philosophy on tradition. Earlier this month, I attended the first Michigan basketball home game against Wayne State, and this past week, I attended the Detroit Lions game vs. the Chicago Bears in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. Having been a Lions season ticket holder my entire life, I am no “rookie” to the sights, scenes, and smells at Ford Field on Turkey Day. However, having since read Burke’s Reflections On The Revolution In France prior to attending the game, my awareness of the spectacle that was truly going on was extremely high.


The Detroit Lions dig into some Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Starting in 1876 with Harvard vs. Yale, Thanksgiving Football is an American Tradition that will never be broken. In fact, games between the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago between 1885 and 1902 were deemed “The Beginning of Thanksgiving Day Football” (Wikipedia). In the NFL, the Detroit Lions were the first team to initiate Thanksgiving Day Football with then Lions Owner G.A. Richards using it as a marketing ploy to get fans to come to the games in 1934 (Wikipedia). Since 1966, The Lions and The Dallas Cowboys have hosted games on Thanksgiving every year with the Lions hosting an NFL record 74 games (

The basis of Edmund Burke’s teaching is an adherence to past traditions and customs, and we learn from those experiences as a foundation of societal growth. Burke states in relation to forming a new government,

“The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is, like every other experimental science, not to be taught a priori. Nor it is it a short experience that can instruct us in that practical science; because the real effects of moral causes are not always immediate”

Burke is contending that we should use the foundation proven to be successful through the generations, and follow it because it is a beneficial system. Having spent time in the French Revolution, Burke is a strong advocator of a Monarchy. His philosophy essentially is if the path is proven, why stray from it? Burke believes that the path has withstood the test of hardship and has proven to be successful. Therefore, in Burke’s eyes, it makes no sense to diverge from said path. Many throughout the blogosphere demonstrate Burke maintains that the traditions advocated by those past is firmly the path we should follow as a society building a government.

In relation to this blog, Thanksgiving Day NFL Football in Detroit is a tradition unlike any other. My fathers father took him to games, my father has taken me consistently throughout my life, and I plan on doing the same with my son in the future. While the Lions have continually been one of the worst teams in the NFL since the mid 1950’s, the one steadfast constant with the Lions has been Thanksgiving. Many fans and teams throughout the league of petitioned and longed for a change of destination in Thanksgiving Day games with the ill success of the Lions, something haven’t seen in Detroit in 74 years. 74 years, and you are planning to change it now? With his firm stance on tradition, this would be something Burke would never advocate along with many in the blogosphere. Tradition in sports is something one does not alter. Whether that be Thanksgiving Day Football in Detroit or the Masters at Augusta National (“A tradition unlike any other”), Sports and Tradition go hand in hand. And while Burke was speaking upon grounds of starting governments and creating a uniformity in society, I think it would be hard pressed to think Burke would ever alter the destination of the Thanksgiving games in the NFL.

Because its the Detroit Lions and Thanksgiving Football. A tradition stronger than baseball and Apple pie!


3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Football: A Tradition Unlike Any

  1. Extremely interesting blog post, especially since I am huge Lions fan. I thought your comparison between the Thanksgiving game and Burke’s teaching was extremely well done and thorough. And I could not agree more that there is no way the Lions should give up the Thanksgiving day. But I think you needed to talk about the basketball game more and how it compares to Burke. It seemed like you just forgot about it. Still I really liked the blog.


  2. being a lions fan, i can agree with the excitement and intensity that comes with thanksgiving day football. i was not aware that some were calling for the annual game to be moved from Detroit, but i couldn’t agree more that that is a horrible idea. I like how you connected that concept of tradition to the Burke readings as well. I feel you could have touched on the basketball game a little more- maybe about tradition of Michigan basketball in a different sense. Really good post though. go lions


  3. Alex,

    Overall I think this was a solid blog post. I think that you have a clear understanding of Both Burke and Mill’s views on tradition, but do lack a clear connection towards their “tradition” and the Detroit football game. I also think that you did not discuss the men’s basketball game as much as you could have. However, some of the conclusions you draw from the traditions of Thanksgiving are very interesting and applicable to this course. Your way of inserting a quote was different than any other I have seen and I am a fan of it. Next time, try connecting the topics and using the blogosphere. Good work!



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