Someone asks you to go to a sporting event. In your head there is an immediate picture and it may not be inside the stadium. You may envision yourself sitting around a grill, surrounded by cars and coolers full of beverages, laughing and having a good time with friends and the surrounding community. Tailgating has become as important as the event itself.
What is tailgating? It’s a good question if you live outside of America and have never heard of it before. Tailgating is the act of arriving prior to an event and having a pre-party consisting of food, friends and often, lots of alcohol. Typically in a stadium or arena parking lot, it started with people opening up the trunk of their cars and sitting on the tailgate, hence the name. What started as getting a 12 pack and some hot dogs has turned into major parties, sometimes turning the tailgate into a bigger ordeal than the sporting event you paid for tickets to see. Tailgating is about celebrating the team you came to support, and this can’t be stressed enough: lots of alcohol. Today, beer isn’t always enough, or at a minimum you should have some craft beer on hand (or gasoline if tailgating an Oakland Raiders game). Also, the grilling has turned from a simple cook-out of a few hamburgers to a competition to see who is able to cook the perfect T-bone or has the best shrimp cocktail presentation.
Europeans do not tailgate per se, but that has nothing to do with passion. More often their practice is to grab a beer or two prior and along with a sandwich and save their energy for inside the stadium walls. It has never occurred to anyone to bring along a grill to use out in the parking lot prior to a rugby match. Most Europeans and cultures outside of American have no clue what tailgating is all about.
Since not every place has a parking lot, what counts as tailgating? Three rules: First is that there must be large amounts of food and alcohol. It does not have to be grills and coolers and can be for sale (food trucks and bars are acceptable). There must be a sense of community. Finally, the actual event can’t be the main focus at the time (more interested in eating, drinking and “mentally preparing”). This list covers the top 8 cultures, sporting activities and their fans. How does one group of fans tailgate different than others? You will see that not only are there differences between types of sport, but within them as well. One of the reasons we like sports so much is the subtle differences between teams and cities they represent.