It’s that time of year again. Whether the temperature is in the 40s or the 80s (this may seem like a huge temperature shift, but in Michigan it’s the norm) there is a light crispness in the air.
The leaves are starting to change. The days are getting shorter. Those much anticipated weekends at the lake are coming to a close.
But as one season ends, another begins.
“He’s at the 50, he’s at the 30, he could go all the way—Touchdown!”
I’m talking about Fall and football! There are Friday night high school match-ups, college game days, and NFL showings that football fans live for.
Football brings people together. It is a common denominator, an activity to focus on and memorialize, and proof that we are inherently social beings.
Football shows us the good and the bad; the need to prepare and to practice, the importance of working well with other people, the commitment of support from strangers, and a feeling of belonging and shared experiences.
In a world where we are bombarded with television shows, movies, music, and “reality TV”, football represents all that is real.
In one game, you have people communicating, planning, strategizing, arguing, shouting, smiling, clapping, cheering, sitting motionless, nervous and on edge, high-fiving, running, tackling, throwing, kicking, tripping, out with injuries, in surprise, in danger, in moments of shock and aww, frustrated, elated, sad, disappointed, excited, and spontaneous.
Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?
Whether you are a football fan or not, in Michigan we have a few options when it comes to siding with a team. When it comes to college football, you either bleed green and white or maize and blue.
Of course, we do have the random sprinkling of Buckeye or Fighting Irish fans. However, the biggest rivalry lies between the Spartans and the Wolverines. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter which team you cheer for as long as you pick a side and stick to it. We are not fond of fair-weather fans in this state.
Not a football fan? That’s OK. Even if attending a game or watching the action on TV bores you, there’s still a way you can partake in the festivities and be a part of that close community. You can go tailgating.
Regardless of who you’re rooting for, the best football games are ones sandwiched between two bouts—before the game and after the game—of tailgating with family, friends, and food.
Top 5 Michigander Tailgating Tips:
- Location matters – If you’re tailgating with adults only, a space near the parking ramp or in a parking lot will likely suffice. If kids are involved, grassy areas are better for football throwing, bean bag toss, and washers to help keep kids occupied and away from traffic. If you find a space that you and your tailgating buddies enjoy, make that space your tradition.
- Bring a dish – If you are new to tailgating, this is a tip you should to take to heart. People go to football games to watch great football. People tailgate to eat great food and talk about football. Don’t be a mooch. Tailgates are basically small community gatherings. Communities thrive when everyone contributes. The best contribution is a delicious dish that is tasty, hearty, and easily transportable. A tailgate is where you can showcase your best casseroles, dips, meatballs, breakfast burritos, and grilling meats. Think grazeable food. You can’t grill burgers and brats without a grill, which is why I suggest investing in a portable grill. A tailgate isn’t a tailgate without a little treats of grilled goodness. That said, always be sure to check propane levels before getting to the stadium.
- Hydrate – Tailgating is generally an all-day event (you can easily wrack up 12-14 hours during a single tailgate event), which is why it is key to balance alcohol consumption and sober hydration. Here’s the drinking golden rule: drink what you can handle but also make sure you swig a bit of H2O to keep your body and mind in game day mode. Drink responsibly!
- Bring a wagon – It is worth it to drag along a cooler, extra clothes, and folding chair from your car to the tailgate spot. Really, anything with wheels is a good idea (a rolling cooler, foldable table on wheels) because you may find yourself walking a bit from your parking spot to the place where you are actually tailgating. Bringing a wagon for the little ones to ride and play in is a fun idea. Be cautious though, pulling the tots around for any period of time often leads to request to pull them around all. day. long.
- Clean up after yourself and don’t forget to recycle – After spending a whole day tailgating, cleaning up after yourself is the last thing you want to do. However, think of it as preserving your tailgating spot. Leaving it the way you found it means that it’ll be in better shape in the future. This is especially true if where you are tailgating is public or private space. Cleaning up could mean you are allowed back next time. Proper cleaning requires a little preparation. Come stocked with two separate trash bags: one for trash and one for recyclables. The recyclables will likely be empty beer bottles and pop cans. We have a $0.10 bottle return policy here in the Mitten. If you are feeling lazy, you can just leave the bag of bottles. Someone will find it and take it, I guarantee it.