Tailgating: Homecoming Edition
Gus Merwin
amarc543@uwsp.edu

When I was a kid I thought going to a ballgame was the best thing in the world. Nothing really tops the feeling of walking into a cathedral of athletic prowess and watching the best athletes in the world showcase their craft in front of thousands of people.

I still think going to a ballgame is one of the greatest experiences a person can have. But you know what else is pretty awesome? The spectacle that goes on before Ed Hochuli even tosses the coin.

Tailgating has become engrained with our national pastimes. Like the Star Spangled Banner, and fat guys with their shirts off and paint smeared across their rippling belly; tailgating is a staple in stadium parking lots across America.

This isn’t just drunken shenanigans. Tailgating is an art form; a ballet. Tailgating is a majestic performance done, not for fun, but for the good of the people.

Because tailgating is such a pivotal part of the fiber of sports, there are a few things that are absolutely necessary when taking part in a tailgate session. The following is a list of things that have been deemed mandatory for a successful pregame.

You will need a grill. Everyone knows charcoal is king, but it’s not so much what cooks the meat, but what kind of meat is being cooked. That grill should be filled with hot dogs, brats, and burgers and the sound of flame charring raw meat should be heard for the duration of your tailgate and well after the final whistle has sound.

There should be dip. Bean dip, taco dip, queso and salsa, cowboy caviar; I can’t stress dip enough. Is there anything that defines a tailgate, defines the United States, more than taking an already salty chip and slathering something gooey and awesome all over it?

Because the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is a very health conscious school, I’d like to do my part in promoting wellness. I urge you all to chew your food well and wash it down with something cool and refreshing. And what’s more cool and refreshing than a beer?

Be advised, I am not saying you should drink. I’m merely stating that it’s a beautiful tradition and our tailgating forefathers fought bravely so that you could enjoy a cold beer while wearing overalls and a furry hat and I feel we should honor them.

Now, if you follow the rules of homecoming weekend you probably cracked a beer right when you rolled out of bed this morning. But if you like to slow play your weekend or wait until you get some food in you it’s okay, I understand.  Just know that some individuals will be 10 deep at that point so don’t be surprised if there’s a fight, or you get kissed by someone you didn’t expect to.

So after you’ve ate and sipped on some goofy juice, you should be feeling pretty good. So good in fact you feel like showing off a little athletic ability of your own. You could play beer pong or maybe a game of flip cup. But the true tailgater knows what game reigns supreme.

Bags, or cornhole as they probably say in Nebraska for obvious reasons, is a game of skill, concentration, endurance, and bad language. It’s a game for everyone young and old, drunk or sober. And the best part is you only need one hand, freeing your other hand to grab a brew, a burger, or flip off the guy wearing the Bears hat.

Soon you’ll feel a tug on your shirt and turn to find your buddies telling you they’re ready to head to the game. This is the point in the day where tailgating becomes a “choose your own adventure” story, with all roads leading to Funtown.


        A.   You go to the game. You grab a hot dog for the road, wait in line, find your seats and enjoy the game.

        D.  You stay at the tailgate. You got the game on the radio and cheaper food and drinks outside the stadium anyway. They go in and you stay with the legions of hardcore ticketless fans.

             C. You go for the first half. You honor the plan of going to the game, but tweak it a bit by heading out after one team goes up by three touchdowns and return to your cold hot dogs and warm beer.

             D. You pass out. You were pacing yourself, but after three brats andeight beer bongs things started spiraling. You wake up to find sharpie on your face and the game of the year in the bag. Just like you.

Tailgating is the culmination of centuries of sport loving, booze swilling, party throwing men and women coming together for the greater good. It has become a social responsibility like voting or buying Girl Scout cookies. It is a time tested display of fandom that has been damn near perfected and enshrined in the Hall of Really Cool Sports Stuff right next to Dale Earnhardt’s mustache and Vince Lombardi’s hat.

Happy homecoming, and happy tailgating. Merica.