Tailgating Do's and Don'ts

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2015

Tailgating Do's and Don'ts

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    If there's one tradition that every sports fan loves, it's tailgating.

    Arriving to a parking lot early on game day, firing up the grill, slamming way too many beers, tossing around a little pigskin, making "weekend" friends who regularly tailgate next to you and getting amped up for your favorite team—tailgating can be absolutely amazing.

    Of course, it can be absolutely dreadful, too.

    Like a house party that has bad music, worse food, not enough beer and terrible vibes, a lackluster tailgate can turn any pregame get-together into a snoozefest.

    With the college football season kicking off in just a few days and the NFL to follow next week, here are some do's and don'ts when you pack up the car to make some hazy memories. Remember to follow these for the ideal tailgating experience.

Do Wear Your Favorite Team's Jersey

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    Now, if you've read any of my previous pieces talking about grown-ass men wearing sports jerseys, I usually suggest they do so with caution.

    But that's when out in public walking around, so the rules should be tossed out the window during tailgating!

    When you're standing around in a parking lot all morning with a bunch of fellow fans, there's only one thing that should be worn—a football jersey—so don't half-ass it here. This is why you drop $75 on that thing, to wear during these moments.

Don't Tuck in Said Jersey

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    Image via YouTube

    Just remember, when you wear your favorite team's jersey, you should never, under any circumstances, tuck it in.

    Unlike the players who are told to keep them stuffed into their pants, you don't have the NFL or referees telling you how to look, so keep the thing untucked and be comfortable while stuffing yourself silly all day long.

Do Bring Games Like Cornhole Boards or a Table for Beer Pong/Flip Cup

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    Just like a backyard barbecue, a solid tailgate always has something for people to do to waste time—and drinking games or cornhole are the ideal options.

    Tossing around a football is always a good choice, but, all too often, that ends up with someone denting another person's car after thinking he's Peyton Manning.

    Keep things simple by having a few games that people can compete in without exhausting themselves.

Don't Leave to Walk Around or Abandon Your Buddies

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    All too often, I've seen plenty of friends who wander off in hopes of conversing with a bunch of other people, leaving other buddies or myself behind like a wounded soldier.

    This sounds great, in theory, but when the wanderer is the one holding the tickets to the game, it's an absolute debacle.

    Whether to avoid getting lost, injured or passing out from drunken stupor, never leave your pack without at least a couple of friends to make sure you return from where you came from.

Do Have Some Sort of Caffeine Handy

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    I have a ritual where, about five beers deep, I grab myself either a coffee (with whisky, of course) or an energy shot. Maybe I'm just getting old admitting that, but, trust me, you'll thank me later for following a similar routine.

    When you're outside and filling your stomach with booze and heavy food all day, you'll need an extra kick in the ass to maintain a level of energy that will last until well after midnight—especially if your team wins.

    It's a long day, so don't be afraid to get some caffeine in you to make it through.

Don't Forget to Charge Your Cell Phone Beforehand (And Have a Charger Handy)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    For so many reasons, this is a huge part of tailgating prep.

    Guys, the last thing you want to have happen is being stuck in the middle of thousands of people, drunk, with no way of reaching your buddies. For that reason, always have a fully charged phone.

    Plus, a dying phone at the tailgate means you won't have much juice left for the actual game, meaning that, should a last-second Hail Mary occur, you'll be the one person who isn't able to prove that you were in the stands when it happened. Don't be that guy.

Do Remember to Have Plenty of Beer, Ice and Snacks

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    As mentioned above, there's nothing worse than getting to a house party and finding out that there's no beer left in the cooler—and it's an even bigger buzzkill should it happen at a tailgate.

    Tailgating is all about sitting around and enjoying the company of fellow fans, having fun and taking in a fall or winter day with lots of alcohol and even more stomach-stretching grub.

    I dare you to watch what happens if you're the guy who forgets to overstock his cooler with the essentials of a good tailgate. Here's a hint: You'll be waving bye bye to those new "friends" you just made.

Don't Brag About How Awesome Your Tailgate Is

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    Whether it's tailgating or talking about how good your fantasy football team is, no one likes a bragger, so just stay chill and avoid doing it.

    Sure, everyone in the parking lot may be flocking to your spot for the amazing ribs, abundance of games, good crowd and handful of TVs to watch other games. But don't let it go to your head, or they may not be back later in the season.

    Tailgating is supposed to be fun, not competitive, so just sit back and play host as people circle through before it's time for kickoff.

Do Help Clean Up (Unless You Were the Cook)

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Just as you should when visiting someone's house, always at least offer to help clean up things before heading into the stadium.

    This should just be common courtesy—after all, the hosts did feed you—but you would be surprised at how many people just get overzealous and run off before half-empty beer cans and paper plates are tossed out.

    Unless you were the one manning the grill all morning, you're on cleaning duty, no ifs ands or buts.

Don't Overdo It on the Fanaticism

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    Kirby Lee/Getty Images

    While wearing your team's jersey is fine, doing anything more than that will just make things weird for everyone else.

    Go ahead and paint-up about an hour before the game starts—as long as you're not stripping down to your skivvies around people—but never show up in full body paint and then stand around all day.

    This especially goes for those early-season games when the heat is turned up. In the battle between body paint and sweat, sweat will always win—and the paint will look sloppy once that happens.

Do Pace Yourself—It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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    Stephen Morton/Associated Press

    We all have that buddy who shows up to a tailgate and assumes he or she can "Drink Like a Champion."

    Don't be that person.

    When you couple an early morning wake-up call with lots of food and alcohol, it can become a mess really fast—unless you pace yourself.

    Get yourself a good base by sipping a few drinks early, eating some breakfast and chatting up some other people. Over time you'll know when you can "get turnt" and takes things to the next level.

    Do so too early, though, and you'll find yourself sleeping on a cooler as your friends leave to actually make it into the stadium.

Don't Show Up Empty-Handed

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Like offering to clean up before heading into the stadium, this one is just common courtesy.

    Whether you coordinated what to bring ahead of time with friends or you're just roaming around and checking out different tailgating spots, always come prepared with something to trade.

    That can be a few beers for a taste of the chicken wings people have been talking about or bringing along some speakers with you while you go head-to-head with others on the cornhole boards.

    You probably won't be scolded if this doesn't happen, but you're sure to get a death stare.

Do Bring a Power Source for TVs to Watch Other Games

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    While you're at the tailgate to get ready for your team's game, it's always clutch when a tailgating spot has a few TVs to keep up with the other action going on that day.

    Having games and throwing around a football are great, but to help pace yourself and just relax with fellow fans, sitting around and watching football is what it's all about.

    Treat your tailgate as you would your living room—by putting your feet up and being as comfortable as possible.

Don't Start Fights

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Sports are passionate and all, but getting into a fight is the ideal way to ruin your entire day—whether at the tailgate or inside the stadium.

    Not only will you embarrass yourself, but also everyone with you will be forced to defend you as just being either way too agro or way too drunk.

    That's never a good look for anyone, so keep your emotions in check and just toss a few witty lines to opposing fans, keeping the banter cordial.