What would cause a typical college student who loves to party to stay in on a Friday night, get up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday and go meander aimlessly around MSU’s enormous campus? Tailgating, that’s what.[beer]
“It’s the best party you can go to. It just beats everything else,” apparel and textiles senior Jen Streby said.
The key to the ritual tailgater is planning. It’s important to rest up so they’re ready for the main event. “Personally, I like to take it easy the night before tailgate, just so I feel good in the morning and have lots of energy to take with me to the game,” hospitality business senior Scott Fisher said.
For most tailgaters, the saying early to bed, early to rise couldn’t be truer. Real tailgaters tend to get up before the sun to get a jumpstart on drinking. “If it’s an early game, we don’t stay out, so we don’t miss the tailgate,” business sophomore Dan Palcynski said. “If it’s a noon game, I’m up by 5:00 or 5:30. I want to be there by 6:00,” Streby said. “First thing I do is crack open a beer when I get up.”
There seem to be two types of tailgaters: the diehards and the casuals. You can normally tell the two breeds apart by their style of dress. The diehards get decked out from head to toe in MSU apparel, with MSU t-shirts, hoodies, and even Spartan green mini skirts for the girls. “I have the whole getup,” social relations sophomore Missy Rubalcava said. “I wear green beads and put (temporary) tattoos on my face.”
The casual tailgaters aren’t so interested in showing their school spirit. Their main objective is imbibing that sweet nectar of the game-day gods. “I think the adults are mostly there to support the team,” Spanish sophomore Amy Burger said. “The kids just want to get drunk.”
Once a tailgater is up, dressed and ready to go, he or she has two main tailgating destinations: The Rock or The Tennis Courts. The Rock, located off of Farm Lane near the Auditorium, hosts mostly sororities and fraternities. On the other hand, the Tennis Courts, at the corner of Wilson and Chestnut, boast of individual tailgates, most out of the back of people’s vehicles.
In the past, there has usually been a DJ at the rock but not for upcoming tailgates, Fisher said. “Here [at the rock] is a big group of people enjoying a good time before going to the game, it’s like one big tailgate,” he said. He added that at the Tennis Courts there are many different tailgates with a variety of music, games, drinks, and hard liquor, but that only beer is allowed at the Rock.
Regardless where a person chooses to go, tailgating is a prime time for socializing. “I stumble around to miscellaneous people that I know, they offer me beer, and I accept,” apparel and textiles junior Joseph Rezene said.
Things can also get a little crazy, Burger admitted. “One time I got my pictures back from being developed and there was one picture of me in a tree at the Tennis Courts,” Burger said. “I definitely don’t remember that.”
While its all beer and good times in the morning, it can get ugly as the day wears on. Tailgating tends to bring out a mob mentality. One tailgater even admitted to stealing someone’s grill when they weren’t around.
“As they get drunker, they start to urinate in public,” police officer Dan Dekorte said. “They also begin to start fights.” To calm some of the chaos, MSU has proposed a number of new rules that will regulate tailgating events on a trial basis. One might wonder what a tailgater will do without his or her beloved games of flip cup, beer pong, or “Chug the Bucket.” But, tailgaters seem to be a hardy bunch that can weather any storm in the name of partying.
Even though tailgating causes trouble for authorities, Wilson Hall’s Assistant Hall Director Michelle Vital does see some benefits. “It’s a good recruitment factor with all these people celebrating Spartan pride,” she said. “There are a lot of positive factors if it is done responsibly.”
As the tailgate winds down, some students make their way over to the game or back home. Either way, most end up passing out at some point thereby ending the ritual tailgate. “We come back here, eat in Case, nap for three hours, get ready and shower, especially if we got beer on us, and go back out,” Rubalcava said, spoken like a true Spartan.
The lure of the party and the ritual tailgate seem to be all that keeps students going through the week during football season. Dressed in the traditional costume of green and white, they descend upon campus in droves for a day of unadulterated pleasure before limping quietly back to their homes to regain consciousness. Of all the rituals of the college species, the tailgate is truly a sight to behold.

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