College Football: More Than Just A Game – Part 1

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Hawaii
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Part 1: The Tailgate Party




In a locker room in the US, young men are getting taped up, putting their pads on and getting mentally prepared to take the field. They will compete against talented opponents, many of whom have been playing or following the game of American Football their whole lives. This is the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication, and it’s known in the states as Gameday. In the states, it’s called that because college football is more than just the competition. It is an entire day of fanfare and excitement, of honor and tradition and incredible entertainment. For most players around the globe, the college football gameday is something that you may not have experienced first hand. In conjunction with the Southern Cross All-Stars trip to Hawaii in 2013, we wanted to give you a sneak peak into the gameday experience, from tailgating to pre-game, the game itself and everything in between…from the perspective of the fan.

we begin at 8:00 AM on gameday….

The Tailgate Party:

In the US, it is commonly known that a tailgate party is a party held in the carpark of college football games. The fans gather hours before the game to BBQ and socialize before the game starts.

The tailgate party is more than just a few sausages and hamburgers washed down by a couple of refreshments; it is a tradition. Part ritual, part social gathering and part preparation for the day ahead. The origins of the tailgate party was a few fans camped out on the back of their trucks and cars, sharing food and drinks before entering the stadium.


These days it has grown into an all day event, with many people going to elaborate measures to tailgate in style. It is not uncommon for people to bring couches or other furniture and set up big screen TVs and satellite cable to watch other games in progress. Some people even build custom tailgating vehicles decorated from top to bottom in school colors and equipped with gigantic BBQ’s.

In fact, many people who tailgate at a college football game today don’t even have a vehicle at all, but instead roam around to various set-ups throughout the parking lots and outside the stadium to enjoy food and drinks and catch up with friends and fellow fans.

While there are no rules per-say…there are a few standard items included in a tailgate experience:[list type=”check”]

  • The BBQ: Most likely it is a gas grill brought in the back of the truck from your backyard. Standard food includes hot dogs, hamburgers and sometimes wings. More elaborate setups will include a huge BBQ smoker where large amounts of meat are slow-cooked throughout the morning and then shared between large groups of tailgaters.
  • The Tent: Almost all tailgating events are concentrated underneath tents (or marquees) that are set up to shade the sun or protect from the weather. Many of these tents are in the team colors, and some even have logos of the team on them.
  • The Beer: We’re not sure how much beer is consumed at a typical Division I college football tailgate party, but you can be sure that there will be plenty of cold cans readily available. There are a minority of fans who provide cocktails such as frozen margaritas or something similar, but you can be assured that the drink of the day is cold beer.
  • The Entertainment: some people prefer to play games such as Beer Pong, Cornhole or Ladder Golf, while many others play music or watch the other games of the day on big screen TV’s. Some of the bigger parties might even have live music performing on stages set up specifically for the tailgaters.[/list]


Many people will spend the entire morning and afternoon in the parking lot. Some fans who don’t have tickets will stay at the tailgate party and watch the game from a TV. What started out as an underground ritual has grown into a major spectacle at college football games. In fact, ESPN, the US sports network that covers major college games, has a crew that visits one marquee match up each week. They set up an elaborate stage and broadcast center in the parking lot and broadcast a pregame show from the stadium. Many people know this show simply as College Gameday.


To truly understand this experience, you have to go and get a taste for yourself. This is why, as part of the Southern Cross All-Stars tour, we attend the Hawaii tailgating party and the UH alumni tailgate party prior to the game. There’s nothing quite like this experience, which has been referred to by many as the “last american neighborhood”, and the “new American community”.


Up next in our “More Than Just A Game” series…Part 2: The Pregame.