Sports Traditions as Important During Holidays as Turkey, Gifts Under the Tree

Filed under: Holidays

Turkey Bowl 2008

The annual Becher-Ware Turkey Bowl. Credit: Gary Becher

Thanksgiving means family gatherings for some and pumpkin pie for others. For Scott Becher, it means the annual Becher-Ware Turkey Bowl.

"It started in 1991 with seven of us playing a little touch football to kill some time on Thanksgiving. Now it's 35 family members literally of all ages. This year we'll meet two new members -- one born in early November, the other a month ago," wrote Becher, an original Turkey Bowl participant, in an email to ParentDish.

No, the infants won't play. Not this year, anyway.

Sports run deep in our holiday traditions. From football games in the backyard to ski vacations on the slopes, they bring us closer. Depending on the activity -- full-court basketball, Frisbee golf -- they also help work off the second and third helpings of Thanksgiving dinner we promised not to eat this year but did anyway.
One of the best things about holiday sports traditions, though, is sharing them with children. A few years back, Scott Lowe started one at Thanksgiving that's half football game half birthday party for his son Devin, 11.

"Devin's birthday is Nov. 28 and falls on Thanksgiving weekend, so I called it the 'Devin Lowe Birthday and Turkey Bowl,'" Lowe wrote in an email to ParentDish. Dad prints special programs and outfits all players with numbered shirts. The main event is a flag football game in which he plays quarterback for both teams so everyone gets a turn to score a touchdown. "The first year we had 11 kids show up. The next year it grew to 21 and now we actually have kids begging to be invited," Lowe explained.

Christmas sports traditions often are built around watching rather than playing. Some families jet off to support their favorite football team in a college bowl game. "Although many families consider these types of trips once in a lifetime experiences, many families will travel to these events year after year. The great thing is they can travel to cities such as Phoenix, Miami, New Orleans, Southern California and each experience is different yet the same," Robert Tuchman, a sports travel planner and author of "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live," noted in an email to ParentDish.

Scott Becher's
homegrown game sounds like as much fun. The Bechers and the Wares -- Becher's sister is married to a Ware -- gather at her home in North Caldwell, N.J., with relatives coming from as far away as California and Florida (where Becher lives).

"We make jerseys for everyone each year with names and numbers on the back, regardless of age. We line the grass with a logo in the middle. It's the one time each year we can all count on spending time with each other. I don't mean to sound sappy, but it's a really special weekend."

Have a holiday sports tradition in your family? We'd like to hear about it. Send us a short description and, if you can, attach a photo. We'll share in a future article.

ParentDish sports reporter Mark Hyman is the author of Until It Hurts: America's Obssesion With Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids (Beacon Press).

Have a suggestion for an article on youth sports? Contact Mark at

Related: More Sports.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.