Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas

Benny and the Elevators perform during the game between the NBA's Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets Dec. 25, 2012. The Bulls are one of 10 NBA teams playing on Christmas Day this year.

hide captionBenny and the Elevators perform during the game between the NBA's Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets Dec. 25, 2012. The Bulls are one of 10 NBA teams playing on Christmas Day this year.

David Banks/Getty Images

Holidays have long been made for sports. Football has all but replaced the turkey as the signature of Thanksgiving. For decades, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day meant stadiums filled for baseball double-headers. It's almost as if games are now an excuse for holidays, rather than the other way around.

So I now wish you a Merry NBA Day! There will be five nationally televised pro basketball games, lasting 13 straight hours, on Wednesday.

Of course, Christmas is of religious heritage, and there are Christians who believe that games have no place on Christmas. This year, the National Hockey League is taking off not just Christmas, but Christmas Eve and Dec. 26, as well.

Nowadays America is both more secular and multicultural, deferring less and less to the Christian calendar. It wasn't until 1902 that Major League Baseball games were regularly allowed to be played in any major cities on Sundays, and as late as 1934 Philadelphia forbade Sabbath baseball.

As for present-day Christmas basketball, the television ratings are so outstanding that it's fair to tell NBA players, "Keep on opening those stockings early, because God will not rest ye merry gentlemen anytime soon on Dec. 25."

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford
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