Toni Leistner briefly guides you through his year-end planning:
December 23rd training
December 24 training
December 25 free
December 26th game
December 27 free
December 28 training
December 29th game
December 30 training
December 31 training
January 1st game
Three games in seven days. "Sounds tough," says Leistner.
Toni Leistner is a professional footballer in England, he plays for the Queens Park Rangers, second division. While his German colleagues can put their feet up at least around Christmas and New Year, it is particularly stressful for him. Holiday football has a long tradition on the island. For example, football fans from all over the world are looking forward to Boxing Day, the second Christmas day, on which a full match day takes place.
Some athletes feel like Leistner. Many never have proper Christmas, some do not have New Year's Eve. Of course, nurses, bus drivers and TV presenters also have to work for the festival, but they can usually take turns and do jobs that are necessary to ensure basic public services. This does not actually apply to athletes unless they live in a society in which the round-the-clock offer of professional sports is now part of the basic public service.
For example, a full day of the Handball Bundesliga will take place on December 26th. The THW Kiel had to travel almost 800 kilometers to Göppingen, the arrival took place the day before, so December 25th was also gone for the handball players. The basketball players who play in the Europa League had to travel even further. The Milanese flew to Moscow, Madrid to Athens, luckily Alba Berlin has a home game.
The American NBA basketball league even played on the 25th, the actual Christmas day of the Americans. These Christmas Games have been around since 1947. It's the most important day of the season for the league, and the clubs are striving to get one of the coveted five games because they promise high ratings and advertising revenue nationwide.
"You just have to pull yourself together completely"
What the athletes think about it doesn't really matter. "You can ask all the players - we'd rather be at home with our families," said basketball superstar LeBron James in 2010. "I think even the people who come up with the games prefer to be with their families that day. It's just not a normal holiday, but definitely one of those days when you want to wake up with your children and unpack gifts. "
Leistner also has to do without. "I don't see the majority of my family at Christmas," says the soccer player. If he didn't have to play, he would have flown to Germany over the holidays. "But I will also experience a few Christmas in my life." After all, his wife's family came and brought a duck. But be careful: "You just have to pull yourself together completely. Last year we played against the bottom of the table, but I felt totally fed up. I won't do it again this year."
The atmosphere on Boxing Day is also special. "There's just more going on, the stadium is full," says Leistner. In the early 20th century, a day off like December 26 was the only chance many workers had to make it to a soccer game. At that time, many clubs also played on Good Friday or Easter Monday. Today there are games in abundance and plenty of opportunities to watch them, but the rule still applies: On Boxing Day, people have time, maybe get a bit annoyed after two days with the family, want to get out.
The game days around the turn of the year have become a hallmark of English football and attract tourists. "Before I signed here, I went to London to watch football on New Year's Eve," says Leistner. "There are a lot of Germans walking around. I have already received many inquiries this year whether we can chat or take a picture after the game." Germans and other fans use the holidays to compensate for the withdrawal symptoms on the island caused by the winter break in their own country.