There are many sporting traditions associated with the holiday season, but few of these hold a candle to the American obsession with football. From Thanksgiving through New Year, no holiday celebrated in America is complete without at least one football game; in 2002, even Christmas succumbed with the establishment of the Hawaii Bowl. Although professional football games have been played on Christmas in the past, this was always dependent on whether or not Christmas Eve or Day occurred on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday. The Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu is set with a fixed date of either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, which guarantees at least one football game takes place on Christmas.
College Football is one of the oldest sports traditions in the United States. The first official game between two college sports teams took place between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, and by the turn of the century virtually every American college and university had a team. More importantly, by the turn of the century interest in college football had spread from the campuses via alumni to the public at large, and had become the foremost American pastime following the end of baseball season.
College football began encroaching on the holidays almost from its inception. The month from Thanksgiving through New Year was soon packed with rivalry and championship games. On New Year’s Day of 1902, the first Bowl game was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, ushering in the tradition that would grow bigger and bigger until eventually the holiday season became saturated with football. Thanksgiving now enjoys the lion’s share of rivalry games; the first weekend in Advent usually sees most of the college chapionship games; and New Year’s Eve and Day hosting the bulk of the Bowl games.
Football also encroached on Christmas as well, though on a more irregular basis. However, in 2002, the NCAA created the Hawaii Bowl, the successor to the Aloha Bowl, expressly to be played on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, although there has already been at least one exception to this. It is played in the Aloha Stadium just outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, and is a fallback game for the University of Hawaii if they are not invited anywhere else. In 2009 the ticket costs ranged from $15-$45. Web: www.sheratonhawaiibowl.com (official website of the Hawaii Bowl.