Column: Consecutive Christmas Day Games Places Undue Burden On Those Who Work It

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ schedule was announced yesterday. As I said earlier today, I’m not real happy about it.

Yesterday we posted an article about certain members of the Steelers organization expressing their dissatisfaction over the fact that they have been scheduled for the second season in a row—after never having down so in their history prior to then—for a game on Christmas Day.

Many responses came in the form of apathy, essentially asking why I should care that a player being compensated millions of dollars—or at the very least several hundred thousand as the minimum—doesn’t want to work on the holidays, even while so many other people in so many other walks of life who are compensated far less are asked to do the same.

Well, that is what is happening here, too. Where there is a major football game, there are the mechanisms of industry that follow. Every team has its down tag-alongs, and we are they for the Steelers, which means we—which means I—will have to work on Christmas rather than spending it with my family.

It’s not just me, of course. It’s everybody that has to work the game. And not just those who have to work the game—it happens—but those who have to work the game for two years in a row. To be quite frank I have no idea why there are no provisions in the scheduling procedures that prevents a team from having to play on Christmas for two consecutive seasons.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin can talk up the honor angle as much as he wants, to be asked to showcase the game on such a hallowed stage, but it doesn’t do a damn for me while I’m off by myself typing away at the keyboard about the Texans, in Houston ignoring my family.

Again, this isn’t just about me. It’s about everybody else that has to work the game because it is their job to work the game who is being asked to do it two years in a row who are not being compensated anything special for their efforts.

There are provisions for Hard Knocks about who is eligible to be immune as a candidate to appear on the NFL series during any specific season, among them being the previous team to appear on the show. Yet there isn’t one in order to assure that a team doesn’t have to play on Christmas two years in a row? That is baffling to me.

In case you were wondering, yes, the Steelers are the first team in NFL history to have ever been forced to play on Christmas Day in consecutive seasons. Yet they have only been asked to do so twice in their history. The Cowboys have played on Christmas five times, losing three of them. The Oilers/Titans have played four times, while Denver, Kansas City, Miami, and Minnesota have all done so three times.

Doesn’t make me feel any better though. They better win.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    If you want to stop having games on Christmas, stop watching the games. Big time ratings is what keeps this going. So if you tune in on Christmas to watch Steelers vs. Texans as a fan of either team yet are the first to complain on the players’ or whoever else’s behalf, then you are a hypocrite and part of the problem.

  • Jaybird

    I feel for ya Mathew. Even for us fans it sucks. We might be home with our families , but our attention will be split between them and the game . I can’t put toys together or set up electronics for the kids while the game is on. And I can’t miss the game either , I’d die!
    Yep there’s nothing like X mas at my house , especially after Coates drops an easy bomb and I start raining down f bombs and other obscenities. That always get the wife and kids in the holiday spirits- listen to me make up new curse words during a Steeler game.
    Anyway thanks for all you do for us Mattew, and your absolutely right: they better win!

  • Jaybird

    I refuse to shop on Black Friday or other holidays because of that. But this is slightly different. I can’t say I’ll just watch the Monday afternoon Steelers game. And what about season ticket holders ? They don’t really have a choice.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Sell them to people who don’t care that players have to play on Christmas

  • walter

    i have to work as well in a remote section of the big cypress swamp in the everglades of florida. But this is the job I chose with the state and I work all the major holidays at straight pay. Its a little different with you I guess. My major concern is not about work, its whether or not I will be able to watch the game. Most likely my only connection with the Christmas game will be from the SteelersDepot and your play by play will not go unappreciated. Thank you Matthew.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    As a divorced father, being able to see my boys on the exact holiday does not work out a fair amount of the time.

    After awhile, you realize that it’s not the day that matters, but the ppl you spend time with around that time.

    As a fan, I’m super stoked that I’ll be able to watch my favorite team play on Christmas! Too bad it doesn’t work for everyone, but many industries have this and so do other areas of life.

    Not really that bad when you compare to poverty stricken nations strife.

  • Dorian James

    I think we can survive one day without Steelers Depot, you guys give so much of yourself for our benefit I think you deserve a day where you don’t have to write anything. I’d prefer you guys spend time with your family because that’s what we’re all going to be doing.

  • Jason

    I work for the State also, i. Ohio, I have weekends and Holidays off now but for 12 yrs if my days off fell on Christmas I had it off, if not I worked it. I can understand the frustration to a degree but I was raised under the ” put on your big boy pants and suck it up” motto.

  • SteelersDepot

    Don’t worry, I’ll be working as I really don’t have a life and prefer not to spend holidays with anyone other than my wife and dog. lol

  • PaeperCup

    lol….I wonder if it’s like this for every franchise, where fans hold their team in the same regards as their family.

  • PaeperCup

    I think it’s ok to have Christmas games, there have been Thanksgiving games for a century. But I always felt bad for the Lions and the Cowboys, because every year they miss Thanksgiving. I guess for those teams it’s become tradition. But these back to back Christmas games for the Steelers? That’s kind of lame that they have to do it two times in a row, miss two Christmases with their family. They should have selected a different team.

  • Rene Gonzalez

    After how great the Ravens-Steelers went last christmas I’m really not surprised at all. If anything I’m a bit surprised they play the Texans instead of a more playoff caliber team.

  • Jason

    The simple things.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I mean, the Texans did make the playoffs last year lol

  • Jaybird

    Im so bad with this team that I actually plan my life around the Steelers. Both my kids were Christened on bye weeks. I made sure they were born in the summer also.

  • Alan Tman

    Every other sport plays holidays.

  • PaeperCup

    hahaha…you made sure they were born in the summer..hahahaha

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s my job to watch the game. Please explain how I can do by job without watching the game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Agreed about the Lions and Cowboys Thanksgiving games. While it’s become a tradition, sure, I don’t think it should be a requirement that they have to play that game every year. The US seems to value holidays far less than many other countries these days. There was a time when the NFL was actually threatened with legal action for playing on Christmas. Now I guess there’s just too much money.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I said watching “as a fan.” If it’s your job to watch the games and you’re not a player making millions, then yeah, I can sympathize with you and you would have every right to be upset. But when players complain or people complain on behalf of the players, I don’t have much sympathy.

  • dany

    Geez this article made me feel for all the people at the concession stands, security officers, janitors etc. all of which probably get paid the minimum and have to work that day, again. Definitely changed my perspective, even if I love football on xmas

  • Robert E Lil

    Here is reality.
    I’ve always been a massive Stillers fan. Never miss a game. Never. And I used to watch most games on TV.

    I can’t make it through a Thursday night game. I can’t make it through a Monday night game. They’re late and boring.
    I’ve missed the last two games of the season three years in a row. Games on thanksgiving night – not doing it.

    The NFL has a huge problem and it isn’t the “game day experience “

  • Rene Gonzalez

    Lol true, you know what I mean tho.

  • MintDragon

    Holy crap Matthew. An article bitching about working on a holiday? 🤔 okey dokey.

  • RickM

    Yes money dicates. If we the viewers didn’t watch, there wouldn’t be the advertisers and the games. I definitely empathize with you. Most who have to work the game, have a 3-4 hour time commitment. When you cover the team, it’s far longer.

    Christmas family festivities are far more time-consuming than Thanksgiving which is primarily the meal. You’d think the NFL would be able to ensure no team has to play back-to-back years on Christmas Day.

  • John Pennington

    No one likes to work holidays but it goes with the job.I missed so many holidays and alot of other things in life but thats how you make a living and didnt get paid the money these players are getting but thats how we make our living.Enjoy it while it last because when its over you will remember playing that game so enjoy it now because one day when you retire you can say I played on Christmas.

  • WB Tarleton

    Undue burden? Really? So, the league should close up shop for the day and turn down millions in revenue so that a few hundred people out of a nation of 320 million do not have to work?

    There are millions of people who work holidays almost every year. Fire, police, hospital. Convenience stores, who we criticize for the “greed” of making their low paid employees work on holidays, but forget that when we need gas to get to grandma’s on Thanksgiving or are low on diapers on Christmas Day. I’m not saying this to be mean (really, I’m not), but they aren’t working with their favorite team on the TV and their family in the next room.

    All jobs have difficult aspects. Some work on holidays, others are very dangerous, others have long hours living out of suitcases five days per week. The thing is that we all knew these inconveniences when we took the jobs and know that there are millions of unemployed people who would kill to have our jobs and work on Christmas or any other day.

  • Alan Tman

    I agree, but that’s how it is. I think holidays should be for family, but our society has other ideas. When I was young you couldn’t find a store open on Sundays. Times have definitely changed, because everything is about the almighty dollar.

  • walter

    Yep no complaint from me about working. My concern is missing the game lol.

  • Bvrsty

    holy crap matt. find a job that you don’t have to work on any holidays. shame on you for bitching about it. I know you tried to spread the pain calling out popcorn sellers, ushers and all, but the crux of the article is that you are pissed that the Steelers are playing on a holiday this year, and are trying to spread the whine. Why the heck do you think this is something of interest to the readers, of whom many may have to work on Christmas anyway, Steelers game or not.

    Since I work at a hospital, I’m on call or scheduled for every holiday. Sorry to offend you, but my chosen career includes certain commitments, and it seems a little odd that when someone such as yourself gets scheduled to do their job (on a paid business trip), you find a need to ask us to rub ointment on your butt.

    So, to be clear, I gathered that you are pissed that the Steelers played Christmas Day last year at home (where you had to carve out a 6 hour block to do your job), and now have a schedule that requires you to go on a business trip to be away from your family this year on Christmas. 2 years in a row you are inconvenienced. and the hot dog vendor making time and a half is suicidal over you dismissing him because he doesn’t have brown mustard at the ready. I wish I had the luxury of writing an article about being so wronged by our country.