The tailgate, and its accompanying grilled meats and koozied beers, is one of the great traditions of American sport. But it’s also crowded, loud and more than a little inebriated. So if you want to ensure your tailgating experience is a smooth one, there are some rules to remember. Follow these tailgating commandments and you’ll be ready when it’s time to head into the stadium.
1. Show Up Early
The stadium you’re pregaming in front of is big enough to hold the population of a medium sized city, so the parking lot is going to get crowded as game time approaches. Give yourself a good three hours before the game so you can get a spot without having to fight your way in.
2. Bring Drinks
If you aren’t hosting the tailgate, it is incumbent upon you to bring beverages. If every guest assumes they need to provide for four people, you’ll be sure never to run out of alcohol.
3. Pace Yourself
If you have followed rules one and two, this is particularly important. You will most likely be drinking for the next six hours, and you want to make sure you actually make it inside the stadium and stay awake through the entire game. No one wants to be shown passed out on the jumbotron in the middle of the second quarter.
4. Only Drink from Your Tailgate
While almost everyone you’re likely to encounter in the stadium parking lot shares your love for whichever team has its logo emblazoned on the hoodie you’re currently wearing, it’s rude to assume that means they want to share with you. And in a place full of so much beer-fueled energy, it’s best to avoid social faux pas at all costs.
5. Don’t Just Bring Food That Comes in Sealed Plastic Containers
If you’re going to bring food, you should make something. If you’re bringing chips, show some initiative and make a salsa to go with them (Supercall’s tequila-spiked salsa would do nicely). If you’re bringing a plastic platter of crudité, you should reconsider whether you want to go at all. Bringing only pre-packaged food is the lazy person’s way to tailgate. Are you lazy a person?
6. Bring Game-Friendly Alcohol (That Means Cans)
Even if you plan on drinking from a Solo cup, you shouldn’t bring glass bottles with you to empty into that cup. They’re begging to be dropped and broken. Don’t want beer? No problem. There’s plenty of quality canned wine and canned cocktails now that you can choose from.
7. Keep Pick Up Games to a Minimum
Don’t be that guy trying to run skinny posts across the parking lot to catch 30-yard bombs. There’s a reason you and your buddies are outside drinking before the game instead of in the locker room getting wrapped in kinesio tape. The chances are too high that someone will throw a ball that lands in someone else’s grill to be worth the risk.
8. Know Where the Garbage Bag Is (and Use It)
Tailgates generate a lot of trash and it’s just good manners to do your best to clean up after yourself. Treat this parking lot as if it were your own living room (assuming you actually keep your living room clean).
9. If You Aren’t Rooting for the Home Team, Remember Who the Home Team Is
There’s nothing wrong with rooting for the road team, but just be aware that you’re in the minority. And while some fans have a good sense of humor on game day, some definitely do not (hey, Eagles fans!). So just be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for people who don’t follow rule number six.