ESPN Chooses Basketball over Football on Christmas

USA TODAY Sports

With Christmastime here again, it's time for families to gather once again to the sounds of all of the classic carols: " Silent Night", "White Christmas", "Jingle Bells", and, of course, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

Well, maybe not that last one. It's a pretty ridiculous song, but the most ridiculous part of the song is that one of the lines of the song isn't even possible anymore.

Now we're all so proud of Grandpa,
He's been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel

No, you can still drink beer and play cards on Christmas. It's the football part that's out.

Except for a few NFL games when Christmas falls on a weekend, football on Christmas is a mere memory now. It's now a day for the NBA. Why is that? Blame the four letter network: ESPN. 2003 was the last year that the Aloha Bowl was played on Christmas Day. It was typically part of a Christmas Day doubleheader with the Blue-Gray all-star game, which ceased in 2003 as well. Coincidence?

Maybe. Maybe not. Especially when you recognize that in 2002, ESPN obtained the rights to the NBA. Goodbye football, hello, professional basketball.

If you are a fan of the NBA version of the game, you're probably happy with the switch.

I'm not. To me, the NBA is marginally more legitimate than professional wrestling. No doubt that's inflammatory to NBA fans, though if you've read Tim Donaghy's Blowing the Whistle, the comparisons aren't completely unfounded. I felt that way long before the book came out, mind you. And I haven't read the book. Professional basketball just became uninteresting to me about 20 years ago. It became less of a team sport and more of an ensemble cast of 10 individuals fighting for attention.

The zeal for marketing the NBA has now extended to the uniforms this season. Our Brian Towle reports that the NBA is forgoing the traditional basketball tank top for short-sleeve T-shirt style jerseys for Christmas. What's next? Polo shirts and capris next season? No thank you.

And that makes Christmas Day a virtual television wasteland to me. The only thing to look forward to? BTN is replaying ten of the best Big Ten games of this season on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...and the Huskers will appear three times:

Christmas Eve, 11 am central time: Nebraska 17, Michigan 13
Christmas Eve, 6 pm central time: Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (overtime)
Christmas Day, 1 pm central time: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24

Hey, it's not live...but it's better than nothing. And especially better than the Not Basketball Association or the 24 hour marathon of that horrid "A Christmas Story" movie.

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