Tailgating Etiquette – Simple Rules to Follow on Game Day

Tailgating Etiquette - Yes and No logoJust like any other event where mass amounts of people are involved, there are some basic rules that we all should follow to ensure everyone enjoys themselves. Luckily, tailgating etiquette is pretty simple to follow but it’s important to know (especially as a visitor). Most sports fans know that we are all there for the same reasons: Cheer our team on to victory, enjoy some great food, have some beverages, and revel in the camaraderie of your family, friends, and people around you. For most of us, this isn’t an issue. But every now and then someone will bring a bad vibe to a tailgating spot and that can spoil the mood for everyone. To help combat this, here are a few tailgating etiquette tips to keep in mind while you are enjoying game day.

Don’t Come Empty Handed

If you are invited to someone else’s tailgating spot it’s always best to offer to bring something. Chances are you will be enjoying food that someone else prepared and having drinks that someone else brought, so it’s only fair to bring along some sort of food or drink that everyone else can enjoy. It can be as little as chips and dip from the grocery store, a crock pot of little smokies, or as big as a platter of ribs or a jug of homemade Sangria. If preparing food or providing drinks seems like a daunting task, then bring some tailgating supplies such as plates, cups, napkins, silverware, etc. as those will eventually be needed. Since there may be a lot of people it may also be a good idea to bring your own chairs and that will save you from sitting on the worst known spot.. the cooler.

Show Your Team Pride

Whether you are decked in head to toe in face paint, overalls, and matching boots or if you’re wearing a modest T-shirt and jeans, it’s important to wear your team’s colors with pride. You don’t have to purchase every item in the team store but at the very least you should be sporting something that has your team’s colors and logo. This not only adds to the game day experience but it also conveys your allegiance to the team.

Leave the Long Toss for the Backyard

Since tailgating can last many hours before and even after the game, it’s good to have activities to help pass the time. Cornhole, tippy cup, beer pong, and ladder golf are known classics but nothing is as pure as throwing a football around and playing catch. I imagine for many us that tossing the pigskin around was our first introduction to football. It’s fine to still do that while tailgating but try not to toss it halfway across the parking lot while trying to relive your old high school or neighborhood glory days. You’ll run the risk of accidentally hitting someone which could be a real damper to the group.

Take Care of your Trash

Tailgating Etiquette - Garbage can

This one is pretty straight forward. Nobody likes a messy person, so make sure you throw away your plates, napkins, empty cans, etc. in the proper receptacle. If the trash is full, offer to take it out and replace the bag. If tailgating is getting close to wrapping up, offer to help with the cleanup. This will go a long way with your tailgating host and it will be repaid with more future invites to come back.

Be Friendly with Everyone, Even the Visitors

With so many people attending tailgating events each year, you are bound to make some new friends. It pays to keep a happy-go-lucky attitude while conversing with people as you never know who you could end up meeting. This goes the same with the visiting crowd. Sure, some playful ribbing back and forth between each other can be expected, but keep it light-hearted and fun. They are here for the same reasons you are, so you should treat them how you’d like to be treated if you were a part of the visiting crowd.

Don’t Drink Too Much

Tailgating Etiquette - BeerIt is often said that tailgating is a marathon, not a sprint. Sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. I’ve seen numerous times when guys and girls (typically young college students) drink way too much and way too fast and end up having a pretty bad day. So it’s a good idea know your limits and to pace yourself throughout the day. Maybe start with a beer or pour a nice mixed drink rather than chug that Fireball. For those early afternoon games where you’ll start tailgating in the morning, coffee with Irish creme or Caesars are a great, light start. Definitely drink some water and eat some food throughout the day as well. If you pace yourself correctly, you’ll be able to enjoy a full day of tailgating and the game itself.

Get Home Safely

At the end of a fun-filled, action packed day the most important thing to do is to get home safe. Sometimes it can be a little chaotic after a football game. Parking lots are full of people trying to leave, people are weaving between cars in the streets, and some people may be still feeling the effects from their tailgating earlier in the day. If you can, try to have a plan of how you are getting home after the game. Whether you need to arrange a ride for yourself or hang out at the stadium for a bit until the crowd thins out, do your best to get home safely.

I hope you find some value in these tips for proper tailgating etiquette. As you go though and enjoy your experiences you may come up more tips of your own. Sound off in the comments below if you have any additional tips that you’d like to share or any horror stories of bad tailgating etiquette you’ve experienced!



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