When game day rolls around, make sure everyone knows which team you’re cheering for. There’s no right or wrong way to tailgate, but the truly devoted fan will go all out for his team, says Taylor Mathis, author of “The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, & the South.”
Mathis, an author, blogger and photographer who toured more than 30 different college tailgate sites over the course of three years, says it’s the passion of the fans that drives a school’s tailgating scene. Let your guests know that you bleed your team colors from the way you dress to the napkins you use at your tailgating event.
Whatever your style and level of loyalty, Mathis suggests a few good ways to show your team spirit on game day.
The perfect home base. Your tent provides protection from sun and inclement weather, but can also show your team spirit. Look for a canopy that matches your team’s colors. Some companies will even print your mascot or logo onto the canopy. Mathis adds that team-colored napkins, plates, utensils, cups, Koozies, and other paper goods are a simple but effective approach to showing your team spirit.
The perfect attire. Styles vary by region. In the South, for example, game day is treated as a formal event: bowties and sundresses are a must. You may even find football fans sporting seersucker suits in their team colors! Other schools in different parts of the country, however, have different standards. Mathis, a 2008 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, says it was much more common at his alma mater to see the jerseys of favorite players.
A few schools even have their own fashion staples, such as the ubiquitous black and white houndstooth print at the University of Alabama, worn in honor of legendary Crimson Tide football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, or the orange and white checkerboard pattern found at the University of Tennessee, which matches the pattern of the Volunteers’ end zones at Neyland Stadium.
Plan ahead. Whatever your style, make sure that when game day comes around, you have all the necessities to show off your team spirit. “When you arrive at a tailgate, you’ll find no electricity, no running water, no kitchen counter and no kitchen table,” Mathis says. “If you don’t pack what you need, it won’t be there.”
And Mathis’ key to a great tailgate? “Have fun. A tailgate is successful as long as you’re enjoying it. [And] there’s no limit to your creativity.”