Columnist Of The People is back to tell you the etiquette of tailgating

A very important season begins Thursday in Connecticut.

Football season? Kinda/sorta.

It’s actually what is attached to football season.

Tailgating!

Frankly, it’s the most fun we have at a football game now. What else is there? If you sit in the stands and actually try to watch the game, you end up watching the red-clad timeout guy on the field telling us the game is in a media timeout, thereby forcing us to sit and stare at each other or a swing-and-a-miss attempt at some on-field entertainment.

So as a responsible Columnist Of The People (COTP) — and with football’s arrival upon us (UConn opens Thursday night at Rentschler Field) — here is COTP’s Guide To Proper Tailgating:

• Food: OK. A few staples here. Chili is a must. Proper chili begins with red meat. Apologies to vegans, vegetarians and other people out there who have found their salvation in kale. This is a tailgate. Tailgate food. Not a wedge salad at the Waldorf. (Although COTP once actually wrote an entire column about wedge salads). Chili is about red meat. Not too spicy, either. Aside from getting heartburn that can light up Cleveland, the next day could be, you know, uncomfortable in other ways.

Next is wings. COTP’s suggestion: Buy them. Hot Rod’s in New London and Smokey O’Grady’s in East Lyme are awesomely awesome. You can make wings, but really … they’ll be a culinary bus crash by comparison.

Let all your guests bring something. It’ll make them feel better. It’ll assuage their guilt. They know that you have spent the Gross National Product of Argentina on this tailgate, but they can bring a Bundt cake and feel better about themselves.

(COTP knows this feeling. He pretty much freeloaded at Juan Roman’s tailgate at a Yale football game last year.)

• Next comes drink. Totally respect anyone who chooses not to partake of the euphoric nectar. But if you do, there is no wine drinking at a tailgate. None. Zero. Remember: the backdrop is football, not afternoon tea with the queen. Football is about beer.

And not all those highfalutin beers we see now. Craft this and IPA that. Stop. Tailgating is about Bud Light. Period. That IPA stuff is fine for a night about town. But this is about washing down chili with real meat in it. Bud Light. The official beer of cool people.

• Logistics: Lighter, grill, gas/charcoal for the grill, utensils, bottle opener, can opener, First Aid kit, table, chairs, plates, red solo cups, cooler, ice, plastic wrap, paper towels, trash bags, device to play music, speakers.

• Games: OK. COTP is not a fan of games at tailgates. COTP believes tailgating is about shoving as much food and drink into yourself as you can before kickoff. But, if you must, COTP suggests cornhole and beer pong. Cornhole is fun and nobody takes it too seriously. Beer pong is equally fun, but potentially dangerous.

Take, for example, the night COTP was at a friend’s 30th birthday party and had challenged Mary Smyth of Mystic to beer pong. Others called her “Mary.” COTP called her “Jordan.” She never missed … and COTP needed to call for a ride home.

But COTP digresses. Cornhole and beer pong are simple, fun and would make you the envy of the people around you.

• Speaking of: Always share with people around you. Just a nice thing to do. Maybe the universe will reward you with tailgate neighbors who don’t play their music too loudly. COTP can’t figure out what’s worse: country or the stuff that sounds like someone invaded your speakers with a jackhammer.

• Finally, the most important part: strategic parking. Get as close to the port-o-potties as you can. No need to exhaust yourself by tending to nature’s calling with long walks. It is also imperative here to bring significantly sized bottles of hand sanitizer, given that nothing in America is more disgusting than those port-o-potties.

COTP is sure many of you are veteran tailgaters. Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments section.

Happy tailgating season!

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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