Tailgating in America
Traditions and customs vary widely around the world. Depending on who is observing them some might seem downright weird. And Americans have their fair share. American culture and traditions have become well known around the world, but that doesn't mean other countries don’t find some of them a little odd.
Take football sporting events as an example. Americans arrive hours in advance sporting their team colors to see a game live. Some may arrive the night before to claim a spot. They quickly fill up stadium parking lots and set up camp, grilling food, drinking adult beverages and tossing footballs. To them, it’s serious business as witnessed by the numerous TV’s, satellite dishes, stereos and other paraphernalia this crowd hauls along.
This is Tailgating. At one time the term simply meant following too closely to another vehicle. Now it’s recognized as a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. One dedicated tailgater described it bluntly as “Drinkin’ lots of beer and makin’ food in the parking lot before a big event, like a football game or concert.” It's not uncommon to see someone downing a beer while their bacon and eggs sizzle.
That might sum it up for some Americans, but there are reasons it hasn’t caught on as enthusiastically in other countries. Specifically the vast car parking spaces many American stadiums provide. In many countries cars are not only smaller, but there is limited parking at most stadiums. That means as much as 95% of fans may use the public transport system to get to an event making it difficult to bring along grills and flat screen TVs.
But, even if there was lots of space and American sized cars to transport these indispensible items, tailgating would still more than likely be thwarted due to local laws. For instance, in the U.K. open flames are not allowed in public, at least not without filling out a mountain of paperwork to get a permit. With violent soccer fan hooliganism still fresh in the memories of local authorities who can blame them for their lack of trust in allowing them to cook for themselves?
And although open alcoholic beverage containers are allowed in public, one would be hard pressed to find a bright red cup to put their contents in. Everyone knows you can’t have a true tailgate experience without the bright red cups. Therefore, many get their pregame buzz on at local pubs before they arrive.
Tailgating has become a pastime for friends and family of all ages. It’s an opportunity to celebrate together while cheering on your favorite team. Congregating outside the stadium with other fans should come as no surprise...it’s become a tradition.
Ask any tailgater what they bring with them to these events and they will probably give a basic list including chairs, blankets, food to grill and the all important canopy. Canopies are great to have when tailgating because they offer protection from the elements and can even be adorned with team logos and colors. There’s no shortage of things people bring to these proceedings. Everything from pellet stoves to inflatable pools to cool off in can be found in abundance.
A lot has been written about the joys of tailgating at professional and collegiate sports events. The party environment is an often discussed topic as well as the great food and drink. Although these things are keys to tailgate parties, they pale in comparison to ways fans inventively exhibit team spirit. No matter what colors are primarily worn by a team, you can be assured those colors will predominantly cover the landscape on the day of the event.
Perhaps the best thing about tailgating is if you forgot to bring something your neighbors are usually happy to provide it. So, for those of you who have never experienced tailgating try it! Pack up a grill and all other necessities, leave early, and enjoy the day.