Touch football. Road races. NFL and college football on the television.

Oh yeah, and time with family eating a great meal and remembering everything we are thankful for.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, not only because of the aforementioned family traditions and food (stuffing is my personal favorite), but also because it is a great day for sports.

Whether you gather your friends and family for a game of touch football — known in many circles as “The Turkey Bowl” — run a 5k, find a comfortable spot on the couch to watch football while dozing off into a tryptophan induced nap, or do all three, Thanksgiving has a great sports tradition.

This year, I will run my first Thanksgiving Day road race, the Gasping Gobbler 5K at Cony High School. I figure if I run three miles in the morning (I know, I know, 3.1) I won’t feel guilty about having that second helping of stuffing or that slice of apple pie. What better way to start a day of gluttony than by burning some calories, while visiting a few friends on the road.

Of course, the race will be a lot more interesting after Wednesday’s snowstorm. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 20s at race time. In my short career as a runner, I’ve tried to set goals for each race. I started out with the goal to finish, then graduated to running the entire race, and now I try to finish in a certain time. My goals for the Gobbler: Don’t get frostbite and don’t take a digger on what will likely be slippery roads.

The Gasping Gobbler is taking the place of my favorite Thanksgiving tradition, “The Turkey Bowl.” For a span of almost 20 years, I’d gather with a group of friends at Lake Region Middle School for a game of touch football the day after Thanksgiving.

This wasn’t Black Friday, it was Black and Blue Friday. When we started playing “The Turkey Bowl” many of us were still in high school or just entering college. Sprinting and cutting on a frozen, sometimes snow covered field, was a fun way to spend a morning with you buddies. As we got older, those mornings always seemed a little colder and those sprints were always a little slower. The day after “The Turkey Bowl” was full of pulled muscles and ice packs. Turkey sandwiches helped ease the pain, but tryptophan can only do so much.

Fortunately for my health, unfortunately because it was a great tradition, “The Turkey Bowl” died a couple years ago. We’ve talked about bringing the game back to life, but those old aches and pains seem to flare up with the mention of playing football and we think better of it.

Football, of course, will still be a part of Thanksgiving this year. There is a great slate of games on the NFL schedule today and the weekend is full of college football. You can even visit our web site to watch Munzing Media’s broadcast of the Portland vs. Deering high school football game. In the Martin household there is always a TV tuned into the NFL games, even when there is food on the table. Mom might not like it, but we will keep an eye on the Green Bay/Detroit game with stuffing our faces full of food and sharing a few stories that are sure to embarrass someone.

And hey, when people ask what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, at some point I will say I am thankful for sports. It is, after all, how I make my living, but sports are also big part of who I am. I’m thankful I have the opportunity to watch football on Thanksgiving and I’m thankful I’m in shape enough to run a 5K Thanksgiving morning.

I’m also thankful that I won’t allow myself to get hurt by participating in “The Turkey Bowl.”

Scott Martin is the Executive Sports Editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Reach him at [email protected], @scottamartin on Twitter, or 621-5618

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