One of the greatest traditions we have in the United States is the tradition of tailgating before and after football games. For the most part there is a feeling of community and connectivity that occurs between fans that I haven’t found in too many places. It doesn’t matter if your tickets are in the front row or you bought discount tickets online for standing room seats, most people you come in contact with just want to have fun and see your football team win.
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For those of us who live in New England, we are blessed to have the Patriots as our team. I can remember growing up when it wasn’t such a great thing to be a “Pats Fan”. The team was often not very good, due to poor ownership and coaching. Back then you could get your pick of below face value seats, and sit anywhere you wanted to. I can remember getting tickets at old Foxboro Stadium on the day of the game! Even then the tailgating was a fun experience. The fans were a little more hardcore, and less tolerant of fans from the opposing team, even though most of the disapproval was displayed in socially appropriate ways. I did witness several fights, and just accepted it as a part of the culture.
This all changed when Robert Kraft bought the team and Drew Bledsoe was drafted in 1993. Then the sellouts started and they haven’t stopped since.
For the tailgating, it has really gotten better and better. The parking lots start to fill up hours before kickoff. People set up their spaces and start to prepare their favorite football dishes. Everything you can imagine is cooking there. Your senses are constantly attacked by delicious odors coming at you from all sides. It really doesn’t matter if your food is any good or not, because in my experience, people have more than enough to share and are willing to allow you to partake of whatever they are cooking, all Patriots fans are in the same family in the parking lot. One time I even sat down and ate the tastiest chicken I have ever had with a small group of Chargers fans.
For many hearty tailgaters, the commitment is going to be a full day. Not only do you have to plan to get there several hours before the game to enjoy the pre-game fun, you have three hours of the game to negotiate, and then there is going to be a couple of hours after the game to post gate and in New England, it will take you at least that long to get out of the parking lot. If you approach tailgating a football game with any type of time limitation you are not going to enjoy the experience very much. In fact, I would give the simple advice to enjoy every moment while it is happening. It is much like going to a carnival, or the circus, there is entertainment everywhere you look.
One of the most entertaining things to watch is all of the antics of those that either have no idea how to handle their alcohol or are just plain too stupid to care. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, but when people act like idiots right in front of you, it can’t be wrong to enjoy it. I have seen several memorable drunks try to work their way into the idiot hall of fame. One guy I remember being really drunk and betting the whole parking lot he could run a hundred yards faster than anyone else. Several took him up on his offer, and the race was on, as they all sprinted for the finish line, the other two both beat him as our drunken “track star” managed to run full speed directly into a parked Ford truck, knocking himself out. He was looked at by medical professionals and deemed, o.k. physically, otherwise he was just drunk and stupid. It takes all kinds to make the world go around.
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For anyone who has never had the experience of tailgating, I encourage you to get out there and give it a try. I have heard that tailgating in the southern part of the United States is even better, they have serious tailgating events for both professional and college football. So find your discount tickets online and get out to the closest stadium and check out the tailgating that is happening near you.
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