THE ETIQUETTE OF TAILGATING
Tailgating has become as much a part of football as the sport of football itself. You could say, in fact, that tailgating in America has become a sport on its own. There are always competitions at tailgating parties. Who makes the best ribs? Whose barbecue is the most mouth-watering? Who is the best at flip cup? Who can embarrass themselves the most by attempting something athletic? And those are just a start.
But, like any competition, there are rules. You can’t just show up at a football game without your pads or any knowledge of the rules, and expect to be able to play, and the same applies to tailgating. There is some serious etiquette when it comes to tailgating, and some rules to be followed. Newbies will need an introduction to the world of tailgating etiquette while it wouldn’t hurt veterans to brush up on the rules, either.
1. KEEP THE PLACE CLEAN
First of all, you’re going to want to keep the place clean. Respect your surroundings. Even if you hate the team whose stadium you’re visiting, you don’t want to be one of those people that everyone else looks at with disgust because you can’t do simple things like clean up after yourself. Trash cans are there for a reason – use them. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you’re part of a group that makes a mess, help clean it up. Just don’t be that guy.
2. BE A GOOD GUEST
Attending a tailgate is kind of like going to someone’s house for dinner, and you should think about it that way. Sure, there’s probably more eating, drinking, and swearing than there is at your friend’s house (probably …) but when you’re invited to a tailgate that someone else has set up and paid for, don’t show up empty-handed. Just like going to someone’s house for dinner, you don’t need to bring the main course, just bring something. Contribute to what they’re doing for your group. Also, don’t bring a whole bunch of extra people without asking. And, if you do bring others, make sure they contribute, too. There’s nothing worse than a freeloader, especially at a tailgate.
3. DON’T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS
Of course, you should always expect the unexpected when it comes to tailgating, and you’re probably going to have to adapt your plan. Something might break, something else might not work, and you might have some unexpected new friends visiting. That said, do what you can to make sure you have everything you need for the occasion.
Make sure your grill has the fuel it needs to run for several hours, make sure you have enough food, chairs, and supplies, make sure you brought enough beer – oh, definitely make sure you brought enough beer – and make sure your music isn’t awful. Take a few minutes during the week and make a playlist that won’t burn peoples’ ears when it’s blaring during the pre-game tailgating festivities.
4. IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
You’ve seen those guys, typically younger guys (and girls) who are staggering drunk before the game even starts. In fact, chances are you’ve probably been one of those guys or girls at a certain time. There’s nothing really wrong with that; we’re not here to judge, but you’re probably past the point where that’s something you really want to get into doing. Remember, the older you get, the worse your hangover is going to be.
There are a few good tips to think about when it comes to alcohol consumption etiquette at a tailgate. Start small. Don’t chug the hard stuff right off the bat. Ease your way in with some light beers or weak drinks. You’re probably starting in the morning, so there’s no shame in starting small. Mix in a water or two every once in a while. It’ll make all the difference, trust us. Follow some of these steps, and you’ll still be coherent to enjoy not only the game itself, but the post-game celebration.
5. ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE
Tailgating is a huge part of attending a football game. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Sports are supposed to be fun, right? But don’t be an idiot. Keep some of these etiquette tips in mind, and it’ll be a better experience for you, for your friends, and for everyone else. And, above all, be responsible. You don’t have to be the designated driver, but make sure you have one. Whether it’s a friend who doesn’t drink, someone’s pregnant wife, or a taxi driver, just have a way home in mind. It’s that simple, and it’ll make the whole experience more fun.