WEEKEND — Knowing that my days of being able to enjoy my weekends without much pressure to do school work are counted, I had another relaxing weekend of prioritizing pleasure over business. I also did a great job procrastinating during the short amount of time that I had actually allotted to studying. Yay me!
On Saturday, I decided to make use of my two season tickets to Rutgers Football and went to the Rutgers vs. Buffalo game with a friend from Gettysburg. Kickoff being at noon, we met up somewhat early in the morning, put some assorted adult beverages in my car, and headed off to the stadium. This was my very first time bringing my own car to a tailgate, let alone one of my first times ever tailgating at all, which all felt really exciting.
Now, there’s a lot to be said about the fun of actually watching a football game and being inside the stadium with all the fans (or in Rutgers’ case, a lack thereof, since most fans usually walk out by the second quarter). But I must say, I honestly think I enjoy tailgating more than I do watching the game afterwards. For any fellow Swedes who might be reading this and who are confused, I would describe tailgating as an intensely American social phenomenon that involves standing around (or sitting in beach chairs) in a parking lot next to one’s car for several hours prior to any sports event. In addition to simply standing or sitting around, there are high levels of consumption of alcohol (a level which is increased dramatically if the stadium doesn’t serve alcohol to patrons, which one can often hear loud complaints about), usually beer (only American brands allowed!) or drinks such as Bloody Marys if it’s early in the morning, and there is also usually grilling of an assortment of classic American foods such as hot dogs, burgers, and anything else unhealthy you can think of. Country music often plays loudly in the background, the source of which is probably someone’s car stereo (which makes you uneasy since either 1) their battery is probably going to die soon or 2) they are severely contributing to pollution if their engine is actually running). Socially, this is a fascinating phenomenon in which Americans are found in their most natural habitat. They can be spotted randomly socializing with any stranger who is wearing a t-shirt or hat with the same (often offensive) sports team logo as they are, forming temporary relationships that are synthesized just from a combination of the influence of alcohol and a shared interest in a sports team. In the same vein, the mere sight of someone who is wearing the opposing team’s logo anywhere on their body, or even a color that could be slightly associated with the opposing team, is widely accepted as legitimate justification for shouting profanity and making foul gestures at that person.
Absolutely amazing, right? I personally love it. Partly because of the generally positive, happy vibe and the beauty of day-drinking without shame, but also because it is so sociologically interesting.
Especially when going to see a team like Rutgers, you’re basically going 95% for the tailgating and only 5% for the actual football. I think knowing that you will be disappointed during the game (which is the case, again, if you’re rooting for a team like Rutgers) makes the tailgating all the more fun and rowdy, because no-one feels as though they have to stay sober in order to be able to pay attention to the game.
All in all, it’s great fun, and I’m happy I got to spend one day this weekend completely immersed in tailgating season!