"Like an Irish Pub": Community and Bonding at Tailgates

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Taylor Wiley


With the growing popularity of tailgating at sporting events, it is worthwhile to study the various themes and phenomena that surround this activity. This study attempts to do so by examining tailgating and the important themes surrounding it. Based on participant observation and interviews conducted with tailgaters during the 2015 college football season at a major Mid.western university, my data suggests that alcohol is used as a way to mentally prepare for watching the game and to build solidarity with others. I also found that symbols are utilized as good luck charms to attempt to control the outcome of the game and to express individuality. In addition, community is also an important aspect of tailgating because the tailgates themselves are used as a way to bond with others. Therefore, football is not the sole focus at these events; rather, connecting with others in a party atmosphere is an important feature of tailgating.

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