Thanksgiving and high school football: the perfect match

Published On November 21, 2012 | By Alice Cook

I love Thanksgiving because it combines three of my favorite things in the world: food, family and football (although not necessarily in that order).

Growing up in Michigan, we always had the Lions to watch while the bird was cooking. My childhood memories consist of the smell of turkey in the oven and the Lions getting toasted.

I migrated to Boston as a college student and never left. It was then that I learned that Thanksgiving Day wasn’t just about the Lions and the Cowboys. New England embraced America’s best game by honoring it at the high school level.

My friends at Boston College who grew up in the area told me that their Thanksgiving Day always begins on a frozen field either home or away. Mom throws the turkey in the oven, and everyone heads off to “the game.”

How does the house not burn down? I wondered.

Rivalries. Community. High School Football. This doesn’t happen in Michigan on Thanksgiving or in a lot of other places. Tradition in New England isn’t just Harvard versus Yale. It’s Natick vs. Framingham, Winchester vs. Woburn, Matignon vs. Chelsea, English vs. Latin, and on and on and on.

As I moved on as a sports reporter, I quickly learned the importance of covering a game on Thanksgiving morning. I stood on fields from Brockton to Lynn year in and year out. I remember covering a game in 1990 after learning that morning I was pregnant with my first child. My feet were freezing and my heart was warm.

All these years later, I still love it when those high school scores scroll through on the local news. Alan Miller, an esteemed sports producer at WBZ always chose the music “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys. I imagined people from Malden to Masconomet just waiting  for the three seconds they would see their school’s name in lights.

Mike Lynch at WCVB has turned Thanksgiving Day high school football coverage into part of the holiday landscape. Nice touch wearing the sweatshirts from different schools throughout the football special. Kudos to all those photographers, producers and editors who make it all happen.

Then there is the pro game. There are two givens: Dallas and Detroit. Now we have a night game, this year featuring the Patriots and Jets. A few years ago when the Patriots played the Lions in the middle of the afternoon, it meant structuring the timing of the meal around the game.

“Nobody eats until the final whistle,” I told my guests.

It was a terrific display of clock management in the kitchen. Impressive execution even by Bill Belichick standards.

Now I’m one of those moms throwing the turkey into the oven and heading off to watch high school football. Home from college, my son will go back to BC High. The rest of the family will watch the local game and my daughter will be cheering on the sidelines. Go Blue!

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for football, family and food.

A perfect pie crust would be nice too.

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About The Author

is a veteran television sports reporter and Olympian. Her experience includes 25 years of sports reporting for WBZ-TV, the CBS and former NBC affiliate in Boston. Cook has worked for ESPN, Turner Sports, and WTBS. Cook is a feature writer for She's Game Sports and She is also President and Founder of She's Game Sports LLC.