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Princeton Time Opinion

November 25, 2011

Giving thanks for the best time of the year for a sports fan

PRINCETON — Thanksgiving is the best time of the year for an American sports fan. The NFL is entering into the playoff elimination season, college football has rivalry weekend immediately after the holiday, the NBA is just starting up, and college basketball takes place with a lot of tournaments from Maui to the Bahamas.

Maui Invitational

Other than that hot mess that we currently call the NBA lockout, this year is no exception. Although it is really cool to get to see Dallas win on Thanksgiving Day in the NFL, my favorite tradition occurs in the days before the holiday — the Maui Invitational.

Taking place on the island of Maui, the Invitational is a three-day, eight-team tournament born because No. 1-ranked Virginia traveled to the island on the way back from Japan to play Division II Chaminade and lost in what some consider “The Greatest Upset Never Seen.”

I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe the Maui Invitational beyond taking three or four of the best teams in the U.S. in a sport, sticking them on a island that resembles paradise, and let them and four or five other teams do battle over three days to determine the winner of a basketball tournament.

It’s sort of frustrating to watch the tournament, though. ESPN usually shows lots of the sights around Maui. It’s bright and sunny, and the people seem like they’re all on a perpetual vacation. Then, you look out your window and see a gray, depressing sky that may erupt with rain or snow at any time.

Needless to say, one of my biggest goals as a writer and in particular, one who eventually wants to be a sportswriter, is to cover an event from Hawaii like the Maui Invitational, a Hawaii football game, or the NFL’s Pro Bowl, if it stays in Hawaii.

Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day Game

My other favorite tradition when it comes to Thanksgiving is watching Dallas play on FOX on the holiday. One of my fondest memories is walking into my dad’s parents’ house and watching the game with my cousins and other family members from the Richmond area. At that moment, it seemed as if the Christian blood ran blue and silver because the entire house was rooting for Dallas.

Another is the time that the Cowboys came back and beat the Redskins on the holiday. That time, we had gone over to Bishop to eat with my mother’s sister, who currently lives in Maryland. We had to listen to her talk smack about Dallas because her Skins were winning. I made a phone call to her on the way home share that the Cowboys had won and defeated the hated Redskins.

With that being said, I hope that your holiday season will be fun and you will get to do things that you don’t normally get to do. Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and to all a good night.

Matt Christian is a Princeton Times reporter. Contact him at

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