Baseball may be America’s pastime, but football is America’s passion. You see, football represents everything Americans hold dear: excesses of violence and money, questionable characters and their hot WAGs, and the excuse to get royally f*cked up with our friends. This last aspect of the game is perhaps the sport’s most beloved quality, and it manifests itself in the form of the tailgate.
A simple idea in theory, tailgating is some version of parking outside of a stadium, where you can drink and eat, and then drink some more - usually directly behind your parked car. Tailgating is as much a part of the game as the coin toss or PED use is. For some, especially Browns fans and their ilk, tailgating is more important than the game itself. At Ole Miss, the Grove (the main tailgating spot) is actually more fascinating than what’s going on inside the stadium (because Ole Miss sucks at football).
However, nuances in the area of tailgating can make or break one’s football experience. Check this quick guide to ensure you get the most out of your Saturdays and Sundays this fall.
1. Pace Yourself
I sound like your mom, I know. But trust me, I come from a long line of professional drinkers (read: undiagnosed alcoholics) and pacing yourself is the key to a good tailgate. By 10AM on a game day at most universities, you will see people beer bonging, taking shots of Evan Williams and generally acting like assholes. Don’t be these people. You are more mature. Well, maybe not, but you’re definitely smarter. Have a bloody Mary, or have two bloody Maries when you wake up. Just remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Blacking out before kickoff is going to make for a long day. For one, none of your friends want to babysit your ass when you start puking in front of a family of four in the parking lot or when you’re falling over as you ask a cop to take a photo with you. Getting too drunk too early means a lonely end to what is supposed to be a long-lived social engagement. Save the party boy antics for after the game.
2. Don’t Try Too Hard With The Set Up
In every crew, there is at least one guy who fashions himself ‘grill master’ or something along those lines. This guy is going to wake up early on the day of every game to secure a spot near the stadium, spend two hours setting up, and then get going on his rubs and marinades for game time eats. Easy Kemosabe. You have years and years to be this guy. We are young, and the planning is best left to the wily veterans of the tailgating game.
You know, like adults and sh*t. Your set up will never be as dope as the alumnus with his years of experience and tailgating acumen. He can afford better liquors and meats, and he has a much better car than you. Sorry.
Plus, your sh*tty Weber grill pales in comparison to the generator-powered mega-grill 6000 he possesses. Kebabs and grilled vegetables are the fare here, his wine is in a bottle not a box, and he actually brought chairs for guests to sit in. Tailgating in your 20s should a blue-collar affair.
3. Don’t Go Overboard With Your Fandom
I would take a bullet for my favorite team, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to dress like an assh*le to prove it. Face paint is cool if you’re seven, not 27. There is nothing worse than being around the body paint dude who won’t let ten minutes pass without starting another cheer or getting a slow clap going. We all know you’re a huge fan; you don’t have to keep reminding us of it.
The overzealous fan’s encyclopedic knowledge of the team won’t help attract girls to your tailgate, and neither will his outfit. Uh oh, now he’s sweating and the paint is running everywhere. If he’s coupled this with a breaking of rule number, look out; he’s about to ruin the interior of your ride. Plus, this guy is probably going to cry if the team loses.
4. Have Sportsmanship
I think this exists mainly in SEC country, but there is nothing more redneck and stupid than talking sh*t to and/or starting fights with the opposing fan base. You guys root for different teams; you’re not on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hell, it’s not even Celtics vs. Rangers (if you’re unfamiliar with this sports rivalry, I suggest a quick Google search).
Nonetheless, a tailgate can sometimes create the perfect storm for a fight: lots of booze, adrenaline from watching superior athletes compete and, once again, lots of booze. I’ve seen it happen many times, and it usually is the fault of one drunk idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut. If you are the visitor, and your team is able to pull out a W, be careful what you say - emotions do run high. Paradoxically, if your squad gets their ass handed to them, take it like a man (or woman), and be an adult. Getting arrested in the parking lot of a football stadium should be solely reserved for underage drinkers.
Pretty easy, right? Don’t drink too much in the AM, be casual with your set up, and don’t be a maniacal fan who talks a lot of sh*t. Unfortunately, I have been three of these four people before, with all the consequences one might expect. Waking up in jail on a Sunday morning never - well let’s just say rarely - makes up for a win. Now let’s go enjoy some pigskin!
Top Photo Courtesy: Tumblr