Adam Jensen: The Turkey Bowl’s pain is all in good fun |

Adam Jensen: The Turkey Bowl’s pain is all in good fun

There’s a Thanksgiving tradition among my friends at Lake Tahoe. The Turkey Bowl, as it is known, is an annual 11-on-11 football game that has gained a legendary status among a small group of middle-age dudes at the South Shore simply because it takes place every year, rain, shine or pow day.

Invites aren’t necessary because of the Turkey Bowl’s traditional kickoff Thanksgiving morning. When an invite is sent out, it typically disparages those who can’t make it. It’s one of the few times you can get 22 people together for a pick-up game of any kind.

The similarities to the NFL or college game end with the number of men on the field. Chaotic plays are scripted on hands, pass rushing is haphazard at best and special teams plays are definitely special. It’s glorious.

Typically starting out as a game of touch football, the game inevitably devolves into some form of tackle football as adrenaline gets pumping and dormant competitive edges are resharpened. A couple of years ago, there was two feet of snow on the ground. It slowed the game down substantially, but provided mercifully soft landings. It’s the landing part that typically sees the attitude at the Turkey Bowl shift from gusto-filled to grumbling by halftime, which always threatens to be the end of the game as movement stops, muscles tighten and motivation to crack some skulls turns into motivation to crack some beers.

As much as we hate to admit it, getting older makes reliving past glories on the football field harder every year. At the end of the game, it’s all moaning and groaning about pulled muscles and dropped passes. It’s hilarious, actually, because we did it to ourselves. Why do we put our bodies through it? Because it’s just fun.

I’m not sure who started the Turkey Bowl, but it’s a highlight of the fall, and I’m glad they did. It gives a bunch of grown men the chance to act like kids for a couple of hours on a Thursday. I’m thankful for a lot this holiday. The fact that I have a group of friends willing to sacrifice their bodies in the name of a good time is one of them.

Whatever your holiday tradition is, have fun with it, even if you know you’re going to be sore in the morning. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Adam Jensen is the editor of Lake Tahoe Action. He can be reached at

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