Exploring the wonderful world of tailgatingWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
They say you never forget your first time and whoever “they” are, they were right.
Tailgating is part of Americana, but somehow the pregame ritual of eating, drinking and being merry was absent from my childhood.
My gameday sports ingestion as an adolescent consisted of going to a game at Municipal Stadium, cramming down a hot dog or two smeared with that zesty Stadium Mustard, hitting the urinal trough that still haunts me to this day, sitting in downtown traffic, where my dad made sure to express who he thought was No. 1 and heading home down Interstate 71.
Where and when most kids lose their innocence, my tailgating purity remained intact while attending college at BGSU.
Roommates and friends would invite me out to Doyt Perry to enjoy some pregame refreshments. Sure, I could stop by for a few minutes and say hello, but I had baggage. And I’m not talking about the annoying girlfriend that hates sports.
I’m speaking of the camera on my shoulder and the microphone in my pocket. Saturdays in the fall were my workdays. As sports director of Bowling Green’s campus television station, I had a game to cover. So, the beer and brats would have to wait another day.
As a member of the broadcasting industry who has found a workweek that includes Saturdays my story, along with my chastity, has remained intact the past six years.
That was until Oct 3.
BGSU Homecoming 2009, it finally happened. Sure, the skies in Northwest Ohio were gray, rain trickled down from time to time, but I was caught up in the moment. At the age of 28, I was about to tailgate for the first time.
What happened next is kind of a blur, not because of the beverages consumed, but because I was trying to cram 25 or so years of missed opportunities into one afternoon.
The tailgate began with a party of three, myself, my girlfriend Amy and my buddy Adam. Pulling up to our spot just beneath the golf course hill (the only hill in BG), we unloaded the cooler, busted out some chairs, cracked open a few cold ones and began tailgating. It was 12:30 p.m. Kickoff was still 3 and a half hours away.
We later merged our group with one of my college roommates who was in town from Cincinnati. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and it was fun to catch up. His wife, another one of my good college friends, is five months pregnant with twins and the baby bump is in full effect.
Twenty or so minutes later, another good friend showed up and couldn’t wait to show off the new cornhole set he constructed. He was so proud of the fresh coat of paint that covered the board, illustrating his love of the Chicago Bears.
Later, the Kammeyers, in from North Carolina, arrived with Pollyeyes chicken and cheese stuffed breadsticks and good news. They were pregnant with their second child, due next spring.
The good news flowed along with the brew. A picnic table was smothered by an array of food that would make your local buffet blush. On the end of the table was a submarine sandwich crafted by my girlfriend and me the night before. Never has a sandwich tasted so good when shared among friends.
Those 3 and a half hours before the game flew by caught up in a time tornado of stories shared, trash talked spewed, food grubbed, and how those brewskies tasted oh so good when they touched your lips.
After all, isn’t that what tailgating is all about? There was eating, drinking and it was merry. I was the king of the castle, the dirty rascal on this Saturday afternoon.
And for one day, I didn’t care who won the game.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC24 and can be reached at email@example.com.