Labor Day reminds us that sports and holidays are a perfect match
If you’re reading this as the holiday weekend tips into Monday and its true, magical effect (a day off!) is felt, then you must truly love sports. You’re getting a Monday away from the grind and yet you’re still invested enough in the games and intrigue of the athletic world to want to read about it.
In truth, you’re far from alone. Holidays and sports, in America more than anywhere else, have morphed together into a happy marriage over the years — or least a highly-contented domestic partnership.
Around the country today, people are preparing to spend a rare and cherished day away from the workplace by watching, attending and yes, reading about sporting events.
We’re not mad, we’re just mad about sports.
Mark Salter, a business analyst based in Manhattan, will jump on the 7 train and head out to Flushing Meadows for U.S. Open — which, by the way, is bubbling up nicely. Novak Djokovic had to withdraw from his fourth-round match on Sunday with an injury, but women’s defending champion Naomi Osaka is in action on Monday. Salter plans to arrive early to avoid missing anything at Arthur Ashe Stadium — Osaka plays Belinda Bencic in the first match of the day.
“I love the Open, but the job means I’m not going to get to any night sessions during the weekdays, and the weekends are my time to decompress,” Salter told me. “The holiday made it possible.”
Next up for Naomi…
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2019
America — and American television companies — enjoy having sports on holidays. Note Dame kicks off its season at Louisville in the only college football game of the day, and Irish wide receiver Chris Finke admitted the timing gives the game a feeling of extra importance.
“It’s kind of why you come to Notre Dame,” Finke told reporters. “It’s the only game on in prime time. The whole world is watching. There’s not a whole lot more you could ask for.”
Around the country, fantasy leagues are taking this final opportunity to draft before the new NFL season begins in a few days’ time. Some would say that preparing for a draft and a fantasy season is work in itself (and they’re probably not wrong), but it’s their day off and they can spend it how they like.
An historic aside: Labor Day dates back to 1882 in New York, when 10,000 marched to protest unsafe working conditions. The movement grew and spread — by 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law a holiday nearly half of the States were already recognizing, and September’s first Monday became an annual, national holiday.
More than a century later, traditions have formed around this holiday like many others.
Baseball players don’t get a day off like the rest of the country, but baseball doesn’t really stop for anything, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. In the majors, 12 games are on the slate, while a bunch of minor league teams have cooked up imaginative promotions to try to lure fans away from big box store sales — or just the comfort of the couch.
The biggest upset of all on Monday would be if you heard an athlete complaining about having to play while the remainder of America is on a long weekend break. That’s not really the way they think, our sports heroes … and in any case, they’re used to it by now.
That goes for the really big holidays, too.
IT'S GAME DAY!
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 2, 2019
The NBA loves Christmas, and tries to provide a nonstop diet of hoops action to give us something to do once the gifts are unwrapped and strewn about the living room floor.
It schedules its biggest teams and most appealing matchups on the holiday as a matter of routine, so much so that Kobe Bryant didn’t get to spend Christmas at home for nearly two decades, racking up 395 points over the course of 16 festive matchups.
As we all know, the NFL loves Thanksgiving – there is nothing like the sound of crunching tackles to help you stave off that post-turkey slumber. Three games are on the schedule again this year, including the Chicago Bears visiting the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints taking on the Atlanta Falcons.
Anyway, back to Labor Day. Sports fans, we hope you enjoy it. With tennis in full swing, Notre Dame on the docket and baseball’s postseason races heating up, there’s no shortage of activity. For golf fans, the final day of the Korn Ferry Tour championship, where a swath of hopefuls have a final chance to secure a PGA Tour card, offers the potential for drama and heartbreak.
As this is America and because it is a holiday, we can safely say a lot of people are going to be watching sports today. The people we spoke to were not exactly an exhaustive survey – after all, this is kind of supposed to be a day off for us, too – but the ideal way to sum things up came from a guy I happened to be chatting with on the train.
“Why would I watch sports on Labor Day?” Los Angeles Dodgers fan Mike Bryan responded to my question, pausing for a moment.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
Love you, ⚾. pic.twitter.com/RrW8f4pobZ
— MLB (@MLB) September 2, 2019