x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

NBA fills void NFL leaves on Christmas day for TV viewers

American football will not be aired on television keeping in mind how busy people will be celebrating the holiday.

Fans whose body clocks are set for all-day football on Sundays will be thrown off this weekend.

In deference to Christmas, the NFL has shifted most of its Week 16 schedule to Saturday. As usual (except for its overly arbitrary issuing of fines), the proper call has been made.

Its motive is partly out of respect for those who consider the day to be sacred but mainly out of practicality. Family gatherings, religious services and busy parents assembling new toys brought by Santa Claus would cut into the crowds and TV audiences.

The lone game left on Sunday, Chicago at Green Bay, fulfills the league's contract with televising network NBC. It kicks off at night for viewers who have not nodded off from exhaustion.

Those who maintain that Christmas should be football-free can take heart that the NFL has halved its doubleheader from the previous conflicting Sunday, which occurred in 2005.

Still, they might yearn for a bygone era when the league took great measures to go dark on the holiday.

In the past, whenever the first round of the play-offs landed on a weekend with a Christmas Sunday, the league would avoid the conflict by booking two games on December 24 and the other pair on December 26.

The sports-starved can find solace by switching TV channels. The NBA, with its delayed opening day, is offering wall-to-wall basketball on Christmas day.