Victory for MSU and You: How to Tailgate Safely

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The start of a new school year at  Big Ten colleges brings a favorite season for many people; no, it’s not fall, but a separate season entirely on its own: college football and tailgating season. The all-day event includes planned outfits, squad pics and, for many despite the law, alcohol. As a football-loving senior at a Big Ten school, I have been around long enough to see the do’s and don’ts of tailgating. So in order to share my knowledge and help others, I have put together some of the most important tips in order to tailgate safely and responsibly. 

  1. Start the day on the right foot: eat a large meal before you plan on going out.

Arguably the worst part about being out and about all day long, regardless of what you’re doing, is not having anything to eat beforehand. And if you are adding alcohol into the mix, an empty stomach is simply a recipe for disaster. Therefore, take the time to sit down and make brunch with your roomies, or go grab a Qdoba burrito bowl to fill you up before the tailgating begins, and bring along snacks. 


2. Dress with the weather in mind

The summer weather only lasts for the first couple of home games, so get your crop tops, shorts, and jerseys (without a hoodie underneath) in while you still can. With that being said, once the first chill of a Michigan fall (and the quickly approaching winter) hits you, dress warm and smart. Brad will still think you’re cute if you retire the crop top once it drops below 60 degrees. Those layers of clothing and heavy jackets are sure to look better on you than a sinus infection or strep throat.

3. Before leaving your place of residency, do a quick check that you have your essential items on you in a secure spot.

Each time my roommates and I prepare to leave for a tailgate, we go over the four most important items we need to have on us: keys, phone, ID and some form of payment (maybe a loose $20 bill or credit card). It’s important that if you’re carrying a single key, double tie it once more than usual onto your wrist. Store your ID and money in the back of your phone case to kill two birds with one stone, since you are likely to never let your phone out of your sight. Since it is unlikely you will lose all of these items at once, any combination of them together will make you better off than only carrying your green, gameday sunnies and a water bottle that may be filled with suspicious contents, but totally isn’t suspicious at all. 


4. Avoid wandering around aimlessly through a sea of tailgaters; know where you are planning to tailgate before leaving your place of residency. 

There is nothing worse than seeing a large group of students under the influence parading around the streets, trying to find a tailgate to attend. This increases the risks for everyone involved, physically and legally. No matter your age, it is never okay to be walking around intoxicated or carrying an open container of alcohol. Make sure you and your friends have an end goal in mind of where you will be celebrating game day at before you leave the house. 


5. Stick with the Kindergarten rule: the buddy system.

Perhaps the longest rule I have stuck by in life: find a buddy and use the system. Sure, there may be a large group of you and all of your buddies going out to tailgate, but at the end of the day it is extremely important to have one person that you can count on to stick with you. Nothing against your other friends, maybe try alternating buddies every game. It’s hard to keep tabs on multiple people at once, while also worrying about yourself. Either way, having only one person to be responsible for and knowing that there is one person positively looking out for you is important on a game day in order to avoid getting lost and sticking with the idea of safety in numbers.  


6. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

The single, most important rule to remember on a game day is that if you plan to drink alcohol, you have to pace yourself. College campuses, especially on game day, tend to have problems with binge-drinking and the lack of laws while drinking White Claws. It is extremely important that you know your limits and look out for one another. You only have so many home games in your time in the student section, so make sure you can make it to each one! You do not want to watch the home game from Sparrow Hospital, however, it is also important to note that there is medical amnesty on MSU campus.This allows a minor to call 911 in the case of a medical emergency related to alcohol without suffering the consequences of being under the influence themselves. Keep an eye on your surroundings and remember to always drink a lot of water throughout the day as well. 


7. If you do make it to the game, bite the bullet and buy the $10 soft pretzel.

The prices of food inside of the stadium can be outrageously expensive. However,  getting into the student section and seeing others surrounding you with pretzels, popcorn, and hot dogs while you haven’t eaten since you left the house that morning can be worse than getting a “Low Balance” alert from you bank app. Save yourself the hassle of fighting your way down the stands and grab a snack before you even get to your seat. You will be thankful later. 


Gabrielle White is a senior English and Professional Writing student minoring in Women and Gender Studies. While preparing to leave MSU, she is working on her senior thesis as well as developing a plan for the world outside of East Lansing. Currently, that plan includes a career path in editing and publishing, as well as the possibility of grad school. Her favorite escapism methods from adult responsibilities are listening to her carefully curated Spotify playlists, reading Slyvia Plath, watching her favorite Youtubers, and daydreaming about London and New York City. To see her obsess over these topics more follow her on Instagram @ggwhite98.