Sept. 1 – National Tailgating Day

GabeBell Ringers, Economics(BR)

Sept. 1st is National Tailgating Day!

The temperatures are beginning to cool, the leaves are turning brilliant colors, and there is a crispness in the air. This means one thing. It’s time to tailgate!

Tailgates are an American tradition that are traced back to…the American Civil War?? Although some accredit it back to Julius Caesar. As noted in Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times (a place where they know how to tailgate), “the basics of tailgating – groups congregating with food and drink to cheer together for their ‘team’ – actually started at the 1861 Battle of Bull Run in the American Civil War when civilians from both sides gathered with picnic baskets to watch the battle and root for their soldiers.”

Partying at battlefields didn’t catch on, so it wasn’t until November 6, 1869 when the first American college football game was played between Rutgers and Princeton, and where, the legend goes, players and spectators wore identifiable team colors and brought their own refreshments.

Another claimant to the “we started tailgating” fame, is Yale. As covered in the Yale Daily News (perhaps self-serving in this case?) “Legend has it that hungry fans at a 1904 Yale game felt a need for refreshment and initiated the tradition.”

Many fans had to travel to the game via train, and, with no food vendors at stadiums at this time, brought along their own food and drink. With limited space at stadiums, fan were compelled to travel early to secure seats, and what better way to kill time than to consume your own refreshments?

While people have argued about the origins, everyone agrees that tailgates are a big deal – to such an extent that sometimes people don’t bother to go to watch the game at all. They have full functioning living rooms with them! For many, tailgating isn’t a party, it’s a lifestyle. This great American tradition has something fun for anyone at any age!

Whether you’re on a college campus, at your state’s football stadium, or even have a ticket for the game, it’s almost guaranteed you would have a good time! National holidays like these encourage spending on certain products. For example, this day encourages the purchasing of hot dogs, hamburgers, thirst quenching beverages, etc. Basically anything you would find at a tailgate.

If you bring your own food and drink to a tailgate before a big game, you save yourself from spending unnecessary amounts of money on stadium concessions. Most people find tailgating to be worth the time to set up a tent, grill and socialize, rather than waiting in long concession lines and risk missing a big play. Use your economic reasoning skills to answer the questions below.

  1. What are some of the opportunity costs to tailgating?
  2. Why do stadiums allow tailgating?
  3. Some schools, like the University of Notre Dame, do not allow tailgating after the start of the game. Why do you think they do that?

Image Citation:

30, Aug. 2018, Lucas Oil Stadium tailgating [Digital photograph].  Retrieved from <>.

30, Aug. 2018, First football game [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>.