“When are you going to take your family to Disney World?”Every fall, my cousin and I watch football games in his “man cave” equipped with sports memorabilia, X-Box, a fully stocked bar and the crown jewel, an HD 70-inch television. As a lifelong Southerner who loves college football, this is nirvana.And for about six years, my cousin pops the Disney question.You see, I have a 10-year-old daughter who has never been to Disney World.The window is closing fast.A year or two ago, American Girl dolls traveled with us everywhere. Planning for a trip to the grandparents in Chattanooga was like organizing a bus load of tourists. In our case, dolls and stuffed animals.These days, fewer and fewer American Girls dolls are joining us, and my cousin, who has an older daughter, has warned me that the Disney princesses are not going to be as appealing come this fall and spring.I have nothing against Disney World or princesses, but this past summer my family decided to do something different. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act by visiting the Citico Creek Wilderness area in the Cherokee National Forest, near Tellico Plains, Tennessee.We literally traded castles and mouse ears for waterfalls and salamanders.We hiked into the Citico Creek Wilderness ending up at Falls Branch Falls, a spectacular roaring 70-foot waterfall. Nurse logs, moss, mushrooms and wildflowers abound. We also snorkeled in the wilderness-fed, Citico Creek, donning wetsuits, floating and exploring for hours in a rushing three-foot clean and clear stream. I will never forget the moment my daughter grabbed my hand when she saw her first colorful darter—a moment of joy and discovery we would experience a hundred times that morning and afternoon.For my entire family, the wilderness became our Magic Kingdom.Disney World in Florida and the Wilderness Act are about the same age. The Wilderness Act passed in 1964; after several years of development, Disney World opened in 1971.Both are uniquely American.We all know the story of Disney, but many of us do not know America’s wilderness story.Fifty years ago this year, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law The Wilderness Act of 1964. The Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and allowed Congress to permanently protect some of America’s most special and beautiful places as wilderness.Today there are 757 distinct wilderness areas located in 44 states and Puerto Rico, designated to preserve and protect wildlife and natural systems for hiking, camping, backpacking, picnicking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, kayaking and nature photography. These special places provide us clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.Big Frog and Little Frog, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock, Cohutta, Sipsey, and Shenandoah—these are the special names of just a few of our southern wildernesses.And there is one key difference between Disney World and these wilderness areas. Disney is owned by shareholders and is a multinational corporation. We—all Americans—own the wilderness areas.It’s all public land. It is our treasure. Our inheritance. We all have a stake in it. We are responsible for it, and future generations are counting on us to pass it down protected and preserved.In the age of Facebook and social media, my cousin has seen pictures posted of my daughter standing beside waterfalls, big trees and in a wetsuit. He hasn’t mentioned Disney this fall in the “man cave.” But we have talked about our Magic Kingdom–America’s wilderness.In fact, I’ve been asking him, “When are you going to take your family to the wilderness?”—Pat Byington is Executive Director of Wild South (wildsouth.org)
BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement follows the Association of Tennis Professional’s decision to suspend all tennis events globally until July 13. “With the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic and its effect on both our community and the broader sports world, organizers have made the difficult decision to cancel the Binghamton TennisChallenger for this summer,” says Howard Rittberg, of title sponsor LG&T. Organizers say professional tennis will return to Binghamton in 2021 as part of the USTA Pro Circuit. Rittburg says, “The Challenger has brought top-ranked tennis players from around the world to Binghamton, providing an annual jolt to the local economy and raising thousands of dollars for charity” since its debut in 1994. In February, Binghamton Mayor Rich David announced the city would build news tennis courts named in honor of Harper Stantz. Stantz died after being struck by a car walking home from playing tennis at Rec Park. The new courts will be used for professional tennis in 2021.
The Buccaneers, Texans and Bengals also have just one Thanksgiving appearance apiece. The Arizona Cardinals technically have played on Thanksgiving just once, but the Cardinals franchise, which began in Chicago and spent many years in St. Louis before it moved to the desert, has appeared on Thanksgiving 23 times.Below is a list of NFL teams in order by number of Thanksgiving game appearances.TeamThanksgiving gamesDetroit Lions79Dallas Cowboys51Green Bay Packers36Chicago Bears33Arizona Cardinals23New York Giants15Washington Redskins12Denver Broncos11Kansas City Chiefs9Pittsburgh Steelers9Minnesota Vikings8Buffalo Bills8Oakland Raiders7Philadelphia Eagles7Miami Dolphins7Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers6San Francisco 49ers5New England Patriots5New York Jets5Los Angeles Chargers5Seattle Seahawks4Los Angeles Rams4Indianapolis Colts4Cleveland Browns3Atlanta Falcons3Baltimore Ravens3New Orleans Saints2Houston Texans2Tampa Bay Buccaneers1Carolina Panthers1Cincinnati Bengals1Jacksonville Jaguars0Tadd Haislop contributed to this article. Family, food and football is a Thanksgiving tradition like no other. The Lions are a great pairing with Thanksgiving lunch. The Cowboys go well when it’s time for leftovers, and the last game comes on just in time for the dessert. You probably don’t need it but definitely won’t be turning it down. (Applicable to both the dessert and the third game). (Getty Images) Ben Roethlisberger https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/3d/b6/ben-roethlisberger-031320-getty-ftrjpg_91jsmbfubabb19t85oh7i73ul.jpg?t=-737917016&w=500&quality=80Ravens at SteelersKickoff time: 8:20 p.m. ETTV channel: NBCWhat a treat. Just in case there wasn’t enough to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, the football Gods blessed Thursday night with one of the league’s best rivalries. Mike Tomlin was brought in to coach the Steelers in 2007. John Harbaugh was hired by the Ravens the next year. In the 13 seasons since, the duo have combined to have one losing season. They are two of the absolute best coaches in football, and it was proven again in 2019.Harbaugh and the Ravens completely redesigned their offense around Lamar Jackson. The Ravens won 14 games and Jackson was named the league MVP in his second season. In Week 1 of 2019, Tomlin and the Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season due to injury. They only mustered the 30th ranked offense in the league, yet finished one game away from the playoffs. Big Ben has returned for 2020, but the end could be in sight. NFL teams had a lot of time to try and figure out Lamar Jackson in the offseason, but will defenses be able to slow him down?Tune in on Thanksgiving night to find out.NFL OFFSEASON 2020:Draft grades | Power rankings | Best free agents availableWhat football teams always play on Thanksgiving?Yes, the Cowboys have hosted a Thanksgiving game for 42 consecutive years, but Dallas is still far off from Detroit in terms of being a Thanksgiving mainstay. With the exception of a six-season gap from 1939 to 1944, the Lions this season are playing their 81st straight Thanksgiving game, a streak that began in 1934.The Lions, who have a 37-41-2 record in Thanksgiving games, started the tradition during their first year in Detroit. George A. Richards, who had just purchased the team, figured a game on Thanksgiving would help his team steal attention from the more popular Detroit Tigers. Sure enough, tickets for the Lions game against the Bears in 1934 sold out two weeks ahead of time, and according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, another 25,000 tickets could have been sold had University of Detroit Stadium seated more than 26,000.The successful turnout meant a Thanksgiving tradition was born. And another one joined some 30 years later.The Cowboys, who have a 31-20-1 record in Thanksgiving games, started their Thanksgiving game tradition in 1966, when then-general manager Tex Schramm signed up for the holiday game in an effort to boost the franchise’s popularity. It worked. The Cowboys that Thanksgiving broke what was then their attendance record, as 80,259 fans watched the team beat the Browns at the Cotton Bowl.The Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving every year since except two. In 1975 and 1977, the NFL awarded Thanksgiving games to the St. Louis Cardinals, instead, in an attempt to boost that franchise’s national exposure. The Cardinals lost both games, and the Cowboys reclaimed the tradition in 1978.What teams have never played on Thanksgiving?The Jaguars have to be looking at the Lions and their 79 appearances on Thanksgiving and thinking: Come on, can’t we just get one game?Jacksonville, which along with Carolina entered the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1995, is the only one of the 32 current NFL teams that has never played a game on Thanksgiving. The Panthers joined the list of Thanksgiving participants when they beat the Cowboys in 2015. Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/26/5c/cooper-prescott-030620-getty-ftrjpg_17o7hnkk6a0op13wlfvqm9ee3s.jpg?t=-1325017592&w=500&quality=80Redskins at CowboysKickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ETTV channel: CBSThe Redskins and Cowboys know each other well. When they get together in Dallas on Thanksgiving, it’ll be their 122nd matchup. But a lot of fresh faces will be around in the 2020 season, namely Ron Rivera and Mike McCarthy. Both teams brought in new head coaches in the offseason. Rivera spent nine years as the head coach of the Panthers before he was fired with four games left in the 2019 season. McCarthy spent 13 seasons as the head coach in Green Bay before taking a year off from coaching in 2019. Both coaches get a brand new start with their new franchises but have different expectations moving forward. The Cowboys moved on from Jason Garrett with hopes of McCarthy taking the team to the next level. Dallas led the NFL in total offense in 2019 thanks to Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekial Elliot and a strong offensive line. The pieces are in place for McCarthy to succeed.It’s a different story in Washington. Rivera took over for the second-worst team in football in 2019. He is tasked with figuring out if Dwayne Haskins is the right guy at quarterback, and ultimately completely rebuilding the roster. (Getty Images) Here’s a complete guide to the NFL’s Thanksgiving games in 2020, including the matchups, times and TV channels for each game.2020 NFL SCHEDULE RELEASE:Strength of schedule rankings | Best “revenge” gamesThanksgiving football schedule 2020The Lions will get football on Thanksgiving started, as usual, hosting the Texans at 12:30 p.m. ET. The Cowboys welcome the Redskins at 4:30 p.m. ET and the Ravens visiting the Steelers caps off the night at 8:20 p.m. ET.GameKickoff timeTV channelTexans at Lions12:30 p.m. ETFoxRedskins at Cowboys4:30 p.m. ETCBSRavens at Steelers8:20 p.m. ETNBC (Getty Images) Deshaun Watson https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/9a/9d/deshaun-watson-010220-getty-ftrjpg_1w6j2ytxmpvrj1xqb5924p6i2k.jpg?t=1729841591&w=500&quality=80Texans at LionsKickoff time: 12:30 p.m. ETTV channel: FoxThe Lions and Texans will meet for the first time since they matched up on Thanksgiving eight years go. That loss might still sting for Lions fans. Detroit had a 24-14 lead in the third quarter when Houston running back Justin Forsett scored on an 81-yard touchdown.The replay showed Forsett’s elbow and knee were down after a short gain, which Lions coach Jim Schwartz saw. He chucked his red challenge flag on to the field, which might have cost the Lions the game. The play was automatically reviewed since it was ruled a touchdown, and because Schwartz threw the flag anyway, the rules said the refs couldn’t review the play. The Texans went on to win 34-31 in overtime. J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Matthew Stafford are the only players from that game that are still on their team. Deshaun Watson is now the man for the Texans as they try for their fifth AFC South title in six years.Both Bill O’Brien and Matt Patricia, two Bill Bellichick disciples, received some heavy criticism during the offseason. O’Brien made some head-scratching moves as both the Texans head coach and general manager. Patricia traded his best defensive player, Darius Slay, who aired some dirty laundry on his way out of town.