New England Soccer Today

A Holiday to Call its Own

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

On Christmas Day, millions across the country and abroad will tune in to watch at least one of the five nationally-televised NBA games in what has become a holiday tradition for many sports fans. Heck, even some who wouldn’t call themselves basketball fans will watch.

With the NBA set to take over Christmas once again, we ask the question: Which holiday can MLS make its own? Let’s explore the possibilities:

Easter: At first blush, one might say this would be difficult because it falls on a different date each year. Then again, that hasn’t stopped the NFL from taking hold of Thanksgiving and turning it into a bonafide American tradition. Yes, the NBA and MLB both regularly play on Easter, but neither league has made much ado about it. Last year, MLS randomly held Rivalry Week in early-April. Yeah, we didn’t get it, either. Perhaps a future slate of rivalry games can be held on Easter weekend instead?

Memorial Day: Many sports fans associated the holiday weekend with baseball, and MLB for their part, has taken notice. In recent years, its teams have donned military-inspired jerseys and hats to commemorate the occasion. With the NHL and NBA both in the midst of its playoff schedules at that time, there’s little attention paid to the holiday by either. If MLS were smart, they’d follow MLB’s lead by making it a weekend with teams sporting special holiday jerseys, and fireworks displays following each match.

Fourth of July: Few will debate that baseball – the national pastime – owns the most patriotic day if the year. But that hasn’t stopped MLS from trying to do the same. The league regularly features a slate of games on the Fourth, though curiously, hasn’t exactly packaged those games effectively. Case in point: the aptly-named Revolution are regularly on the road for this holiday. We did the calculations on how much sense this makes, and the number we arrived at was zero.

Labor Day: Depending upon the timing of the holiday weekend, the NFL has traditionally launched its regular season schedule around this time. Meanwhile, MLB has also made lukewarm attempts to make it baseball-centric. But neither has truly claimed the weekend as its own. With the postseason hunt heating up at this point in the MLS season, this could be the ideal holiday for the league to start a new tradition – something that Western Mass Pro Soccer brilliantly did this year when their home opener coincided with the annual Labor Day weekend festa at the nearby Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

Columbus Day:  The popularity of this less-than-PC holiday has gradually waned over the years, which could be a good thing for MLS. Why not start a new tradition by featuring a slate of rivalry clashes on – get this – a Monday in early-October? And with the postseason looming, it could very well turn into must-see TV.

Halloween weekend: Yes, the regular season is typically over by the time the holiday arrives. But how difficult would it be to extend the schedule by one week to make it happen? With many postseason races left undecided going into the final weekend, this could be a great opportunity for the league to capitalize on what is often some of its most compelling matches. And for the teams already knocked out? It’s just another reason to draw a few extra fans for the season finale.

Which holiday should MLS make its own? Let us know in the comments section!

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