Tailgate Nation II

OK so what makes a tailgate different than a stay at home party? The game of course. There has to be a game of some kind to focus passion and stir shit up otherwise it’s just a pic nic at the beach. Most historical accounts of tailgating fix the first tailgate at The Battle of Bull Run, which, in hind sight, turned out to be regrettable for all involved. Good idea ……bad execution. The next recorded one was about a decade later at a Rutgers Princeton football game. Of course there were no tailgates, there just wagons and horses, (the invention of the chuck wagon should not be overlooked), it was after the advent of the actual tailgate on a station wagon post WWII that tailgating took off.

Folks that don’t follow sports can drive by a game day event and form various impressions about what’s going on and many of them would be incomplete or just flat out wrong. Let’s do the numbers using college football as the measuring stick. The average CF stadium is somewhere north of 70,000 seats. There are 110 Division 1 Colleges that play football.  Most teams now play 12 games a fall. Lets assume that 60% of capacity participates in a tailgate that’s 42,000X55 (as it takes 2 teams to have a game) =2,300,000 folks are tailgating each game day at stadiums across the nation. Which would amount to somewhere around 23 million folks a year for D-1 college football. There is also D-2 and 3., pro football and auto racing and ………well you get the idea. It’s not just for a few diehards it’s pretty popular.

Walking through Lot 14 at Doak Campbell on game day is like a day at a fair, bazaar, flea market, and revival meeting. The smell of grilled food, the thumping music, and various game day events hooked up to portable satellite dishes, the laughter and shrieks of happy children and the camaraderie of folks relaxing and getting pumped for the big game is intoxicating. Sometimes during the post game tailgate the band comes through and sections stop in to tailgates for refreshments, often playing some of their repertoire.  Of course intoxicants are an integral part of the day as well. It’s a chance to cut loose and revel in the sophomoric spirit of the day. But to say it’s just sophomoric is not accurate for many.

It is a religion, game day is the holy day and the stadium is church. The holy rollers got nothing on rabid fans who definitely speak in languages during the game. The collective emotions of the fans boil up to a crescendo that is unique in my experience. Rival games are extremely intense FSU UF, FSU Miami, Alabama Auburn, Michigan Ohio State, UF Georgia are wild affairs. If you are thinking of a first time experience into the college football world these are probably not a good place to start, they are more like exorcisms.

In 2005 SI put out an interesting piece sponsored by Weber (wonder why?) which helps bring perspective.


And the answer to “why is this fun?” is quite simple. Because we want it to be.

Next: memorable tailgates.


7 Responses

  1. Not for the first time, Fakename will now try to shamelessly wrangle an invitation to one of your tailgates. I’ll bring food and at least one friend so your wife does not become needlessly suspicious 🙂
    I won’t go to the game, that would be taking it entirely too far. I would die of boredom.

  2. “Not for the first time, Fakename will now try to shamelessly wrangle an invitation to one of your tailgates”

    Well of course you are welcome. I am not going to Samford (too hot) BYU has a family wrinkle that will require my full attention but Wake, BC, Heels, and Clemson are all good bets. Just let me know when and I’ll send you the cell #.

    Date Opponent Result
    Sep. 4 Samford 12:00pm
    Sep. 11 at Oklahoma 3:30pm
    Sep. 18 BYU 3:30pm
    Sep. 25 Wake Forest TBA
    Oct. 2 at Virginia TBA
    Oct. 9 at Miami-FL TBA
    Oct. 16 Boston College TBA
    Oct. 28 at NC State TBA
    Nov. 6 North Carolina TBA
    Nov. 13 Clemson TBA
    Nov. 20 at Maryland TBA
    Nov. 27 Florida TBA

    I do not remember you asking before:) Maybe you used liberal words and I “just didn’t get it”

  3. That’s the thing about you ex-liberals–you forget how to speak the language 🙂
    It just so happens that my sister from Atlanta will be in town the weekend of the BYU game for her (usually) annual visit. And I was struggling to figure out what to do to entertain her. Talk about the perfect guest. But…it also unfortunately does not sound like a good time for you. We will go to the coast instead, now that it seems we may still have one.
    Looking like BC is my best bet. November starts to get too cold for me…plus, I’m going sometime that month to Atlanta for a reciprocal visit to see Cirque du Soleil.

  4. I think you would like my sister–she has some closet liberal opinions, but I’m pretty sure she’s a card-carrying member of the NRA. We are—different 🙂

  5. If you haven’t seen Cirque du Soleil be prepared to be wowed. Can’t get enough. Its great entertainment.

    BC is a great tailgate to go to. The Noles fans will be very excited to play these guys in Tallahassee. So look forward to that.

  6. I’ve heard the FAMU tailgate food is out of this world! A co-worker said he can (and has) spent all his money on the food vendors.

  7. We tar and feather vendors unless they have boiled peanuts. Prefer to cook our own tailgate goodies, it’s a major part of the fun I will get to that part next.

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