Tailgating is weird, which is why we do it

A crowd tailgates outside of Dorman Hall in MSU’s central tailgating spot, the Junction. The Junction sits in the shadow of Davis Wade Stadium, where cowbells are audible from inside.

Football season is upon us, which, of course, is just another way of saying the tailgating season is upon us. Some fans pass on mentioning the sport altogether because football is simply the event that happens for tailgating to be allowed.

At a certain point, I feel like something can be so conceptually strange but so practically genius that people cannot help but love it. Tailgating must be a prime example. I know we all do it so much it feels somehow elemental to this school, but really think about it for a second. How is this something we are allowed to do? Mark Keenum knows we do this? 

I consider it even more odd that there are entire websites and articles dedicated to tailgating and the cities in which to do so. Bleacher Report published a tourism article about us, penned by the University of Florida's GatorsTailgating [sic]. If they wanted to create a name in one word like that, they should have called it "tailgators." Missed naming opportunities aside, of Starkville they say, "The main attraction that Starkville has is SEC sports, although there are a couple of downtown districts." Case in point. Bleacher Report published an article calling it our "main attraction." Tailgating is what people come here to do. Tailgating is just what we do here.

How did we end up here? What makes it so great? What makes grilling burgers and drinking in preparation for a sporting event so appealing that by halftime most of us have left? Why am I siting in the Junction for hours on end in the sun the Friday before the game just to get the right spot? 

Easy answer. At the end of the day, tailgating is an excuse for people to come together and hang out in a stress-free environment. That is all. That is why it is so loved. Above all else, it is a time for college students to simply enjoy themselves and for adults to have a good time with their families. Amazingly, tailgating is even immune to stress from the football game. When we win, everyone is already there, celebrating together. If we lose, and we do, the tailgate is fine. This has very little to do with the game. This is about the tailgate itself. Sure, as a concept it may be off, but in all practicality it works. 

Given what we know about the intensity of the fanaticism at many sporting events, it is strange the tailgating environment is as healthy as it is. Healthy is a relative term, and in this case, of course, might not account for the kidneys or stomach.

In terms of social environment, though, the mainstream opinion is overwhelmingly positive. According to Erik Alexander with CNN, "We’re all tailgating to have a good time. It’s important to respect everybody, regardless of team affiliation, and help maintain a safe, friendly environment."

Carl Stine over at Bleacher Report put it best when he stated, "Let's just be clear: There is no bad place to tailgate in the SEC." Mississippi State is no different. We may not have the craziest place, wildest traditions or a way to set up tailgates that does not involve sitting in one spot for 12 hours, but we are in with the best. 

At the end of the day, tailgating is one of the strangest concepts there is when it comes to college events. The university just asks us to do it outside, and everyone, for the most part, just kind of agrees not to look to see who is breaking school rules. Thanks the simplicity of it all, it leads to one of the most electric environments seen throughout all of college.

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