Tailgating: A southern college football tradition

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Mary Nielson Clinton
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Whether you have attended a Southeastern Conference (SEC) football game or not, chances are that you have heard the stories of the rows of tents and all the people crammed under them before the start of the game. Tailgating has been a long-standing tradition of southern football games and a kickoff isn’t complete without first eating a meal of BBQ and fried chicken surrounded by all your friends.

Tailgating may look a lot different this Fall with face masks and social distancing putting a damper on some activities. But hopefully we’ll still get to participate in at least a few of my favorite aspects of this southern-style fun!

Tents and Traditions

The SEC is known for having decked out tailgating tents and fans who are dedicated to them. For the Saturday games, some schools such as Mississippi State University have services that will begin setting up tents on Wednesday. At other schools dedicated fans will wake up before the sun rises on game day to secure their spot. Regardless of where you are, each school has diehard fans and time-honored traditions. For instance, Texas A&M has “The Midnight Yell” where the Aggies start a celebration at midnight on gameday by packing into Kyle Field. Other traditions include “Kickoff on the Quad” at the University of Alabama and the 22 Cockabooses surrounding Williams-Brice Stadium at the University of South Carolina. Wherever you go, each school has their own traditions that make their tailgating experience special and different from any other school.

Snacks and Screens

However, there are some parts of tailgating that remain the same throughout the South. For starters, no tent is complete without a table filled with an impressive spread of food. No matter where you go, chances are that you can find a tent with enough potato salad and corn dip to feed an army. Another common aspect is the TV’s. Certain tents will have large TV’s set up so that fans are able to watch other football games either before or after the big one they’re dressed for, which leads me to another similarity. 

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