With three hours and nine minutes of TV ads, football fan, you should have plenty of time to carve the bird.
  • With three hours and nine minutes of TV ads, football fan, you should have plenty of time to carve the bird.
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True greed has no end. Greed grows until something makes it stop. There will be three NFL games televised on Thanksgiving. Games run from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

According to a 2010 Wall Street Journal report, the average NFL game lasts 3 hours, 12 minutes. Game time is broken down thusly: Game action, 11 minutes. Replays, 15 minutes. Shots of the coach, crowd, and cheerleaders, 36 minutes. Commercials, 63 minutes. Shots of players standing around, 67 minutes.

So, three NFL Thanksgiving games equals 33 minutes of NFL football, 45 minutes of replays, 1 hour and 48 minutes of looking at coaches, crowds, and cheerleaders, 3 hours and 9 minutes of commercials, and 3 hours and 21 minutes looking at players standing around.

Seems like every Division I college-football game is televised by somebody. We can rest easy knowing that the college ad load and stand-around times mimic the NFL’s. The dream has been realized: football seven days a week with an action-to-commercial ratio on the happy side of 6-to-1.

Like the NFL, Thanksgiving is American born and bred and, therefore, naturally, the holiday is so laced with commerce that it no longer has a meaning remotely connected to its origin. Or, maybe, its meaning remains the same, but now Greed has better tools to work with. In either case, what Thanksgiving is, as the sun rises over Grossmont Center, is a national shopping opportunity. I’ll call it Sales Day.

I should put in here that Thanksgiving does not belong to America alone. There is Thanksgiving in some provinces of Canada (second Monday of October) and Norfolk Island, an Aussie-owned isle 877 miles east of the Australian mainland. We have the sovereign nation of Grenada. There, Thanksgiving, a recently installed holiday observed on October 25, celebrates the anniversary of the 1983 U.S. invasion. Moving eastward, there is Liberia (first Thursday in November), and, turning north, we arrive at the city of Leiden, the Netherlands. Apparently, many Pilgrims who subsequently moved on to the New World stopped by, passed through, or lived in Leiden. Some recorded their births, marriages, and deaths at the Pieterskerk Gothic Church. Not that unusual, but nonetheless, 400 years later, a nondenominational Thanksgiving Day service is held every year on American Sales Day at Pieterskerk Gothic. Who knows why...people are strange.

And that’s it. That’s all. That’s the complete list of official Thanksgiving observances that can be found on our planet. And, in all the foregoing countries, provinces, territories, and stand-alone buildings, Thanksgiving is a modest, simple affair.

They don’t get it.

Thanksgiving is about sales. It’s Sales Day. Advertisements come at you in the mail, are pushed under the front door, spammed to your computer, beamed into your radio and TV. Ads assault you on the street, by phone, by fax, by humans walking door-to-door, by planes circling overhead. The ad torrent is relentless, overwhelming, unstoppable.

The Vegas Line

NFL Week 13

Since Thanksgiving is about sales, it stands to reason it would be ludicrous to close one’s business on Sales Day. Walmart opens at 6 p.m., joined by other Sales Day 6 p.m. pioneers: Sears, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Staples, Sports Authority, and Target (Target’s Black Friday deals started two weeks ago). Getting an earlier jump are the following enterprising conglomerates; they open at 5 p.m. on Sales Day: JCPenney’s, Best Buy, Toys R Us.

But Kmart is champ, because it goes the extra mile, opens at 6 a.m. Sales Day morning and remains open for the next 42 hours. Leena Munjal, “Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Integrated Retail,” working for the holding company that owns Kmart, says, “This holiday season is all about giving more to our members and because many like to start shopping well before Black Friday, we’re excited to open our doors early on Thanksgiving and offer other early access opportunities for them to shop and save.”

Giving more to members. Early access opportunities. Shop and save. I’m excited.

Sales Day shock and awe. Last year on Sales Day, 22 million shoppers found their way to Walmart. That’s the entire population of Australia. The National Retail Federation says 141 million people shopped in stores and online during last year’s Black Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They predict retail sales between now and Christmas will total $616.9 billion, equal to the gross national product of Russia. Fifty-one million turkeys will be eaten on Sales Day and...

Whoa! Hold up there. I believe I’ve slandered the National Football League. Suddenly, the NFL seems like a Mom and Pop outlet. Compared to Sales Day greed, the NFL’s greed hovers on the edge of wholesome.

Looking through a new lens now, I peruse Thursday’s NFL lineup. Hmm...good games this year.

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monaghan Nov. 26, 2014 @ 3:35 p.m.

Love this one, Patrick, and in the spirit of the season, I even love your really reprehensible correspondent Kim Solem. (Or is he/she joking? I can't tell anymore, what with Mencken's Almost-True-Tales columns.) But you should know that charities also have been getting in on the pre-Sales Day act: I received three human-being phone solicitations today, asking for money. By now I am a little offended and asked the latest one, the United Farm Workers, to take me off their list of gullible marks. (But wait, does this churlishness make me another version of Kim? It might.)


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