Tailgating: RV style

Part 4: Tailgating research

Tailgating received the ultimate sign of social acceptance a few years ago—a college research paper.

The college football season kicked off today. Photo: Tigerpages

Stephen Ross, an assistant professor in Minnesota’s Division of Recreation and Sports Studies, found that tailgating can be addictive—and it has nothing to do with the gallons of beer that’s consumed.

“Once people start doing it, it’s very hard to stop,” he said. “They continue to do it, and continue to do it for a very long time. We found a fairly substantial number, maybe a quarter of the people, who had been doing it for 20-plus years.”

Other tailgating researchers have found:

  • Majority of tailgaters are men between the ages of 25 and 44 with a college degree
  • A majority tailgate from 6 to 10 times a year
  • A majority of tailgaters arrive at the stadium 3 to 4 hours before the game
  • 93% prepare their food at the stadium
  • Over 85% prepare their food for the tailgate using a grill or a smoker

Other interesting tidbits

Margaritaville tailgating gear

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Big Ten lead the leagues for tailgating.

LSU is the unofficial leader in the SEC, which shouldn’t be too surprising. As anyone who has attended Mardi Gras can attest, those Cajuns are serious about their partying.

At LSU, you find more big kettles than anywhere else, giant pots of jambalaya. Instead of tailgating with 20 or 40 or 80 people, you’ll find groups of 100 to 150 people.


In the Big Ten, Michigan’s fans party on the college golf course making sure to park off the fairway.

Purdue has some of the most innovative tailgaters, including the man who converted a coffin into a grill and ice chest and hauled it to the game in a hearse.

Penn State has one of the largest areas for tailgating, some 40,000 people cramming the agricultural fields around Beaver Stadium.

Worth Pondering…

The rule on tailgating here: There are no rules, so plop your canopy down, set up your lawn chairs, fire up the grill and party.

—Dave Hollingsworth

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