The art of tailgating

GVL / Eric Coulter
Laker Tailgating

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Laker Tailgating

Brady Fredericksen

Tailgating is a tradition, and it’s just as much a part of college football as Ben and Jerry are of ice cream.

It’s not as simple as it seems, though. Tailgating is an art that not everyone can successfully pull off. Some fans would even say that if you don’t know how to successfully tailgate, you shouldn’t even be allowed to go to the game.

Lucky for you, I took to the tailgate first hand to find out what actually goes into the perfect tailgate. What you’re about to read may shock you, or it may come off as being obvious.

If it’s obvious, I applaud you. If it shocks you, well, keep reading and learning.

Tailgating is an activity that is open to all students. There’s no age-limit on having fun and getting to socialize with friends old and new, but there is that whole drinking part. By all means, bring all the Mountain Dew and Gatorade your heart desires, but for the 21-year-old students, there’s a whole other dimension of tailgating.

With this being college and all, you’re going to need beer. From Bud Light to the masculine Woodchuck, the students’ drinks of choice are going to vary from tailgate to tailgate. Once you’ve gotten your drink, you’ve got the usual strategies of consumption.

I’ve always been an advocate for the traditional methods of drinking, but if you’re more into repeatedly jabbing your beer can with someone else’s car keys in order to drink that baby in less than five seconds, go for it, champ.

Of course, there’s more than one way to drink a beer.

“I think games like corn hole, (beer) pong and flippy cup are pretty important,” said junior Scott Stubbleflield.

Ah, the games. Yes, corn hole is a staple at every tailgate because it’s a game where you always think you can win. It’s the only game that gives fans both drunk and sober the thought, “How hard can it be to throw a bean bag into a small hole 15 feet away? I’m seven beers deep and I can do that!”

Reality is, no one is actually good at corn hole, but everyone thinks they are, and that’s why it still gets lugged around to every tailgate.

Great tailgating is so much more than shotgunning beers, playing corn hole and eating ketchup-drenched hot dogs. Actually, food is a huge part of this, too.

“Saturdays in the fall need dogs and burgers going on the grill, those kinds of things help create that game-day atmosphere,” said senior Jake Krengel. “The food and tailgate is what makes college football better than other sports.”

Think about it, how often do you go to a tailgate and not bring a grill? It’s essential because tailgating isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you’re going to be spending your entire afternoon in a parking lot, it only makes sense to have someone grilling up dogs and burgers.

The research that went into this column took place at the previous home game’s tailgate, and let me tell you, there are some fans that cook a mean rack of barbecue ribs.

Seriously though, it’s the activities you see going on around you that make a tailgate the greatest.

Every tailgate needs a football. I don’t care if you have no desire to even go to the football game or play catch; you need a football there, even if it’s just for looks.

Basically, your tailgate needs to be unique and you need to have fun. You don’t need the huge flags or full-sized RV, all you need is friends and your setup. Why is anyone going to want to tailgate with you if it’s just you, a lawn chair and a grill?

They won’t, and you’ll be that weird solo tailgater playing catch with yourself.

So to recap, your tailgate on Saturday needs to be a big deal. Bring the beer, grill and hot dogs, grab a football, borrow someone’s corn hole set, find some friends and you’re off to the races.

Oh, and if you think about it on Saturday, I’ll be up in the press box and I like my burger cooked medium.

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