Finally, Thanksgiving has come. It is my favorite holiday of the year, for three simple reasons: family, food and football — cliché, I know, but I still think we should take some time now to sit back, relax and realize how much we have to be thankful for in the world of sports.

With hundreds of teams and thousands of games every year, it can get a bit overwhelming. Just think of how many hours you spent watching, playing, and reading about sports this year, and you’ll realize how big of an impact it has on your daily life.

This Thanksgiving, let’s start off by giving thanks for Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor, a sophomore guard who put up 138 points in a 179-104 victory on Tuesday night. Who was guarding this kid? He scored 77% of his team’s points and shot the ball 108 times, approximately every 20 seconds on average. The statistics are absolutely mind numbing. Thank you, Jack, for reminding us that amazing things can happen anywhere, even in a tiny, little-known Division III school.

Let’s give thanks for Otto Porter and Greg Whittington, the stars of our talented, deep sophomore class. Nerlens Noel can go sell his soul to Kentucky, and Georgetown will keep chugging along. I’m proud to say that we are not a school of the “one-and-done” sellout. Thank you for treating our school as an actual school, and not like an NBA-prep program.

Let’s next give thanks for Lance Armstrong, hard as it may be for some. Do the titles even matter at this point? He has done more for charity than any athlete I can think of — and as his book says, “It’s not about the bike.” Yes, it has been a frustrating, humbling year. But thank you for rising above it all.

Let’s give thanks for the Washington Nationals. After 79 seasons, D.C. finally got to experience postseason baseball. Although they broke our hearts in Game 5 of the NLDS, they had an inspiring run. Thank you for making D.C. a baseball-relevant city, as well as for helping me realize that I could actually lose my voice at a baseball game.

Let’s give thanks, too, for our referees. Although we may constantly criticize them, the first few weeks of this year’s NFL season showed us how much we need them, and the botched touchdown call at the end of the Seahawks-Packers game solidified our love-hate relationship. Thank you for coming back and for ending the kangaroo court that threatened to defile the game that we love so dearly.

Let’s give thanks for the Europeans. Our neighbors across the pond organized a spectacular Summer Olympics, and Poland and Ukraine hosted a wildly exciting European Football Championship. Thank you for rekindling our interest in a sport that is often underappreciated in the United States.

Finally, let’s give thanks for the law, which cracked down on some disturbing scandals in sports this year. Jerry Sandusky, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Petrino, Sean Payton and Greg Williams all deserved the punishments that were handed down to them. Thank you for holding our coaches and athletes to a high moral standard.

The list goes on. We are thankful for all of those players, stories and games that kept us entertained, tugged at our hearts and gave us some peace of mind over the past year.

Of course, we should not need a holiday to remind us to give thanks, but it sure is convenient.  Let’s be real — we should be doing this sort of thing every day, without a special day off from school to commemorate it. The turkey and football is all just fluff.

Still, the fluff tastes good. Dig in, and have a happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

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