Tailgating with friends and family can be more fun than attending the game itself. Woven into the fabric of American sports, especially football, each country region has its unique tailgating traditions. Whether raising our spirits by sipping a microbrew in the North West or doing shots of whiskey in the South, we all love cheering on our favorite teams while tailgating.
The ritual of setting up shop at a sporting event’s parking lot to grill out game-day fair or gathering with friends at the local sports bar, tailgating has become as firmly planted as a ritual as commonly celebrated holidays. We have enjoyed participating in tailgating rituals for so many generations that most of us are unaware of its roots in American football.
College football is considered the birthplace of modern tailgating, dating back to a Rutgers and Princeton matchup in 1869. In Brunswick, New Jersey, this party was hailed as both a great game and a grand celebration. However, the essential elements of tailgating played vital roles in both uniting people and conflict management all over fully mobile, vehicle-based cuisine in a turbulent time pre-dating the matchup.
Automobiles Up The Game
Pre-football partying was transformed into tailgating with the advent of the automobile and station wagons’ post-World War II popularity. As vehicles changed styles and provided the platform for partying, the 1980s and 1990s injected even more wheeled opportunities for the tailgating experience.
More Wheels, More Fun
Wheels popped up on grills, coolers, and other party gear transforming parking spaces into campsite-like venues suitable for all-day (and night) fun. What was once a gathering of like-minded folks became annual traditions for people of all ages, eating, drinking, and cheering for hours on end.
Bring On The Power
Power generators and RV’s became must-haves for fans, bringing live TV right to the parking lot with no need for game day tickets. The ultimate day tailgating has raised the stakes in food, fare, and fun as the better the equipment the better the experience with as many as some 30 percent of party people stepping foot inside the stadium.
Tailgating, A Timeless Tradition
From playing homemade corn-hole games to dancing the night away to tunes spun by professional DJs, the tailgating of today may only loosely resemble those events of the past. What has remained constant throughout the generations is that tailgating allows people to eat, drink, and be merry with like-minded folks who enjoy a little friendly competition.