Tailgating craze hits Villanova students

Naveen Gidwani

Junior Ara Kailian has to make sure he is in the Eagles parking lot by 9:30 a.m. For Kailian, this means taking an 8:54 a.m. R5 train to Suburban Station and then transferring to the Broad Street line, which takes him to the “Linc.”

Why does Kailian go through this tedious process for a 4:15 p.m. kickoff? To tailgate.

Tailgating is an event that takes place in stadium parking lots prior to a sporting event. Its purpose is to allow fans to get energized and enthusiastic for the game.

Kailian, a Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder, anticipates every Eagles home game. He’s not only excited to cheer on “the Birds” – he’s also excited to tailgate.

“I tailgate with a bunch of mutual friends. The people that we tailgate with are there at about 6 a.m. every Sunday to save the parking spots,” Kailian said.

For fans, tailgating has become a national pastime.

Tailgating aficionados look forward to the pre-game festivities more than the actual game. It is a time to gather with friends, share stories, throw the football and, most of all, eat and drink. For tailgates that begin hours before kickoff, eating and drinking can epitomize the moment.

The unsung rule for all tailgates is to bring enough food to share.

“We all give my friend $10 and he buys all the food. I cannot wait,” Kailian said. “We will do Eagles cheers and it will be a true bonding experience.”

In a time when social interaction has decreased, tailgating has become an outlet for many people to meet. People from all socio-economic levels come together for one purpose – to cheer on their team.

“People that don’t know each other say hi, but God forbid you wear another team’s jersey – you will get heckled,” Kailian said.

Tailgating is an old tradition that dates back almost 100 years.

Many say the art of tailgating originated when Yale University used to take on Harvard University back in 1904. Fans would ride the trains out of the city to the stadium grounds with picnic baskets.

Today, tailgating has expanded into an extravaganza.

“Tailgating is like walking through a thousand backyards without privacy fences,” said Joe Cahn, who visits college and professional football stadiums across the country to study tailgating.

Tailgating is addictive. A study by Minnesota’s Division of Recreation and Sports Studies found that once people begin tailgating, they cannot stop. Many people have been participating in tailgating for 20 years or more.

“As I get older, I plan on making tailgating an essential part of raising my children. I will hold trial runs in my garage so they know what they are doing,” said Kailian, tongue-in-cheek but half-serious.

“I consider tailgating an opportunity to forget about the week and just relax with friends. I have no obligations – I can sit back, relax, and let the good times roll,” said Kailian.