Why Tailgate?

When I set out to determine tailgators motivations behind attending tailgates, I expected to hear that it was all about the football. This was one answer, but I also heard about other motivations.


As one might expect, the most common reason for tailgating is the football. I interviewed a Ball State Cardinal and Indianapolis Colts fan to gain insights into his motivations for tailgating. In addition to finding that tailgating was just preparation for the game, which was the main event to him, he also talked about the maturation of his love of football, which was equally intriguing.

I think that this clip serves as an excellent introduction to this individual. In it, he does the play-by-play commentary from memory for a game that occurred in 1995:

Attending tailgates and games as a child:

The beginnings of his love for the Colts:

More understanding of what is going on at the tailgate and games:

Interviewing this individual also shed light into another interesting but unsurprising phenomenon: the popularity of a team (and tailgating) is related to the success of the team.

On Ball State:

On the Colts:

Finally the Uber-Fan discusses Colts tailgating today:

Social Activity

Other people attended tailgates for the social component--to visit and hang out with friends and relatives. Here is an interview with one such person:

Other Motivations

Some interviewees responded that the food at tailgates was the reason that they attended. Favorite foods included burgers, barbecue, and chili. One such interviewee had this to say:

My father has tailgated for years and at this point he was it down to a science. He even built a smoker for the express purpose of preparing food for our tailgates. We typically attend at least four to five Colts games a year. We have a spot reserved and I am not bragging or anything but people in our lot will always come to us for my father's food. Of course, he loves this and makes sure to make more than enough, but I think that's one of my favorite aspects of tailgating...our love for food and tailgating ultimately led to a lot of great friendships that exist outside of football season.

Another motivation was that it was an excuse to have a party. An interviewee said this:

I am really not a football fan at all, but it is a great reason to get together, drink some good beer, and relax. Over the years my husband has tried to make me appreciate the games, but I really don't get into that aspect. I am in it for the fun...Honestly compared to the tailgate, the game is kind of boring.