Sports | December 4th, 2023

Comparing The Lore: NFL Thanksgiving to NBA Christmas

By: Michael Trim Jr.
Comparing The Lore: NFL Thanksgiving to NBA Christmas

NFL Thanksgiving games or NBA Christmas hoops, which one is better? Which captivates the audience and glues them to the couch on their respective holiday? When debating this question, we must first investigate the numbers surrounding both. It is no secret that the most popular sport in the United States is without question, American Football. According to The Sporting Blog, Football garners almost 20 percent more popularity than the next closest, which is Basketball.

Using data from last season’s holiday games (seeing as the NBA hasn’t played any Christmas games this season), you can see that the most watched game last Thanksgiving was the New York Giants vs the Dallas Cowboys; which brought in a record breaking 42 million viewers. On the NBA Side the highest viewed games last Christmas was the Milwaukee Bucks vs the Boston Celtics. That game brought in a total of 6 million viewers. 

Based off of  the numbers that were brought in from last year’s holiday games, it would be easy to make the observation that NFL Thanksgiving is indeed better, and the NFL is the league that is able to bring in more viewers to watch the product that they are putting on the floor. The NBA knows they can’t compete with the NFL, that is a big reason why the NBA doesn’t play on Thanksgiving. The NFL doesn’t normally play on Christmas, but if Christmas falls on a Sunday, Monday, or Thursday the NFL is obviously going to play on their scheduled days, and they dominate the ratings over the NBA.

I asked an anonymous student how they felt about the comparison of the two. 

They said,

“I feel like they both can’t miss events, they bring the family together. For my family we always watch after we eat and debate on the teams on whether they are good or not. For Christmas, LeBron is always playing so you know the Michael Jordan vs LeBron debate is coming to come up in some sort of way.”

He also added a “hot take”, “I feel NBA Christmas is better because we get better matchups on Christmas.”

When finding a position for this argument, I want to add that there are always two guaranteed teams for the big NFL Thanksgiving event, the Detroit Lions and The Dallas Cowboys are always playing on thanksgiving. However on the NBA side, every Christmas since 1999 has feature one of if not both the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers, which is interesting, because the Celtics and Lakers rivalry started way back in the 1959 NBA Finals. 

For me as a massive Basketball fan I prefer NBA Christmas games, however the impact the NFL has on viewership is undeniable. Since Both Leagues are a business, the goal is to build and make money, so if we are going by that metric, NFL Thanksgiving is without better than NBA Christmas.