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I was browsing a few sports sites to get a brief update on the recent events in the world of sports. I read about how the San Diego Chargers (12-3) won their tenth straight game, and earned a first-round bye after a 42-17 mauling over the bipolar Tennessee Titans (7-8). I also read about how the Boston Celtics (23-5) managed to hold on to the double-digit lead they had in the second half to defeat the Orlando Magic (22-8) in Orlando, 86-77. The article that really got my attention was one that got my interest, but not one I was expecting to read. I found an article about Stan Van Gundy and his outcry (or, as NBA.com describes it: "request") to not play during the holidays, particularly Christmas.
"Christmas to me, obviously basketball is very important to me, but there are some days of the year where it's got to take a back seat to something," he said.
For those of you who don't know me very well, I grew up with a Muslim father and a Christian mother. I was raised in the United States for the first five years of my life until I moved to Kuwait, a country where the state law is based on the Islamic law. Most private schools in countries of the Gulf Coast recognize Christmas and give the students two to three weeks off. However, the professional athletes do not get Christmas off (unless they are singularly permitted to) due to the fact that it is not a religious holiday that is typically celebrated in most of the Muslim world; it is recognized, but it is just not commemorated.
This brings me back to Stan Van Gundy. He says that he "actually [feels] sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." Well, there are apparently 17,461 basketball fans who attended that game that he feels sorry for, the 76,000 people who attended the other four games that were played on Christmas day, and the thousands (I'm not sure if it's tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands) watching the games at home with family or at the nearest bar with friends. This doesn't even bring up the fact that it is traditional for football fans to watch the NFL games on Thanksgiving. However, that's a different story, since football on Thanksgiving predates the league's formation itself. Plus, Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday; if Thanksgiving was truly a part of this discussion, then we'd have to take the fourth of July, Columbus Day, Labor Day, and (who knows?) maybe even September 11th, into account.
Van Gundy showed even more perseverance when he said that he doesn't watch NFL games on Thanksgiving. Before the game, he stated, "I think we get a little carried away with ourselves with sports thinking we're more important than everything else. But that's the way it is: there's nothing more important than the NBA on Christmas Day." He also said that he understands that the high-priced television contracts generate money for the league and it would be difficult to stop such games, but, at the very least, he would love to have less games played during the holidays in order for the players, coaches, staff, and everyone else involved to spend more time with their families. He recognized the league and how it has been good to the people involved in terms of how much they get out of the contracts, so he said he wasn't going to complain much.
All in all, Van Gundy does make a valid point. Since the United States population is mostly Christian, I believe that the NBA should recognize the fact that the players are working day in and day out, even during the holidays, to perform at their absolute best for their fans. Plus, Van Gundy and his Magic have games scheduled for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's this season. That's just how the chips fall sometimes, Stan Man.
I would also like just give a shout out to all of the professional athletes, coaches, staff members, cameramen, and everyone else involved in the making of great memories during every, single holiday: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur, Eid, Buddha Day, Ramanvami, Naw Ruz... whatever! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Here's a little something just for fun:Here is the link if the embedding doesn't work for you. <pollembed title="Do you think professional athletes should play during the holidays?"></pollembed> Sources: