One of the best parts of going to a football game is the tailgating. Sitting in a parking lot drinking beer with a bunch of rowdy strangers may not seem like a ideal Saturday morning, but there’s just something about the experience that feels like an integral part of college football. If you’ve never done it before, here’s what you should expect to happen.
Step 1: I know it’s Saturday morning and your instincts are going to tell you to sleep in, but ignore that. You’re going to want to set an alarm and set it early. Don’t worry, it’s not for work, it’s for drinking and eating and destroying your body in general.
Step 2: Load a ridiculous amount of food and drinks into the back of your truck or the trunk of your car. I’m talking an absurd amount. If it’s not enough to feed a Midwestern family of six for a week, you’re doing it wrong.
Step 3: You’re going to need something to cook all this delicious, gluten-filled food and the only option is a grill. If you can’t grill it or eat it out of the bag, throw it in the trash.
Step 4: The next big question: What are you going to wear? You either want a fresh, new jersey to hype the current roster, or you want something old enough to show that you’ve been dedicated to your team for longer than any member of One Direction has been alive. What you don’t want is a t-shirt jersey from a few years ago when your team went to the conference championship because that looks like you just got it on clearance at a gas station on your way to the game.
Step 5: You need to make sure you get to the stadium hours before the game begins, because only casual fans show up for game time. True fans know you’re not getting the full experience if you don’t spend the morning getting drunk with strangers in a parking lot.
Step 6: Have you ever thrown a last second touchdown to win a championship game? Probably not, but you’re about to experience the next best thing. Someone there is going to have a football and they’re going to want to play catch. It’ll start out light and casual at first, but after a few minutes you’re going to utter the words, “Go long.” This is when your receiver will start to sprint down the field like a young Michael Irvin and you’re going to unleash a spiral that would make a tornado jealous. After that breathtaking toss and catch you will be the tailgate champion and all the babes will come over for smooches. (Or you will be asked to leave for destroying a family’s smoker with your errant throw.)
Step 7: Some people might look at what you do next and call it “three hours of binge drinking” but in the tailgating industry we refer to it as pregaming. You’re technically not drunk if you’re still pregaming. That’s a law.
Step 8: There are no strangers in tailgating. If you’re wearing the jersey of the same team, you might as well have grown up together. Even if you’re wearing a different team’s jersey, it’s usually fine as long as both parties have beers in their hands. Someone might ask, “How do you know that guy you just talked to for 20 minutes and kept hugging?” The answer: You just met him and will never talk to him again, but you’ve got sports in common and that’s all you need. Doctors, janitors, teachers, pirates; it doesn’t matter what you do Monday-Friday because you’re just another fan surrounded by other fans on Saturday.
Step 9: “Ever played cornhole?” That’s not a pickup line. It’s an invitation to play the greatest game that tailgating has ever seen. You never realized tossing a beanbag onto a wooden slate could be so intense and addictive, but it absolutely is. It’s a shame that football isn’t in the Olympics, but it’s a travesty that cornhole isn’t.
Step 10: Remember that mound of food you brought that would stock a local grocery store for a day? Obviously you’re not going to eat it all because you’re not an ogre with a death wish. Instead you’re going to offer it up to fellow fans who come by to hang out or you can be a little more crafty and use a tailgate barter system where you exchange some of your goodies for homemade snacks from others. It’s just like the first Thanksgiving, except with way more change of heart disease. Hooray!
Step 11: Always bring your jumper cables. Someone is going to forget to turn off their interior light after blasting their radio all morning and their battery is going to die. That’s when you’ll swoop in and be the jumper cable hero. While your cars are hooked together you can talk about things like torque and carburetors and other dude things.
Step 12: Some people might consider that a full day and think that now is the time to head home and get some rest. Not you. Not a chance. Your day is just beginning because now the game is about to start. Tailgating isn’t for the faint of heart. Have you ever seen Rambo: First Blood? It’s not quite that intense, but you can wear a bandana just like Rambo if you want! Good luck, you have a long game ahead of you. Go (insert the mascot of your favorite college football team here)!!!!!!
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