Thanksgiving, football style: Turkey bowl is a beloved tradition for many

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Thanksgiving is often associated with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, Pilgrims and green bean casserole (the one only the select few like). There’s another tradition, however, which is steeped in the juices of America and simmers to perfection only once every year: the turkey bowl.

Football is a staple of American culture and, for some, is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as much as your dear Aunt Sally’s cranberry jell-o.

“It’s the cherry on top of Thanksgiving,” said Mark Nader, a senior from Colorado Springs.

Adam Durfee (right) tackles Patrik Connole during a pickup football game. Photo by Ari Davis.
Adam Durfee (right) tackles Patrik Connole during a pickup football game. Photo by Ari Davis.

Church organizations and families across the country gather together Thanksgiving morning to play various kinds of football whether it be flag, touch or even tackle. Based on the participants, football games are often split to incorporate age groups and varying levels of skill.

The beauty of this tradition is that regardless of an individual’s level of football talent, the turkey bowl welcomes all.

“I didn’t play football myself in high school,” said Aaron Gough, a senior advertising major. “I don’t play flag football, I don’t play in any leagues or anything, so the turkey bowl is the one time a year I can play semi-organized football.”

In addition to creating an opportunity to exercise on a holiday that often leads to the overconsumption of delicious foods, the turkey bowl accentuates the underlying family orientation of Thanksgiving.

“I like the ward turkey bowl,” said Scott Porter, a senior recreation management major. “I want to hopefully create a family dynasty. It’s a bonding experience for fathers and sons, friends and family.”

Logan Rogers, a senior studying psychology, loves the opportunity the turkey bowl creates to catch up with old friends. When he gets to spend Thanksgiving at home in Colorado Springs, it’s an easy and fun way to touch base with family and friends.

“I love the camaraderie that it brings, and it creates a little extra room in your stomach for the feast later that afternoon,” Rogers said.

Still, rivalries and previously dormant streaks of competitiveness are likely to resurface during turkey bowl gatherings.

“We get our ‘Uncle Rico’ on and get to relive the glory days,” Rogers said.

One does not simply escape the sweet aroma of fresh grass stains on Thanksgiving. For some, it’s become a ritual to look back and see how much they’ve grown – and whether they’re in better shape this year than last.

“The turkey bowl is the transfer from a young man to a man,” Porter said. “You get the best of both worlds. You get sports, and then you get to eat the best meal ever.”

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