Tailgaters Training Day

Since tailgating is in “off-season”, it’s all about next year and what you can do to take your tailgating and your team to the next level. A few thought starters . . . to get the juices flowing.

Look at the NFL calendar—did you notice that Halloween is on Sunday this year? HUGE for NFL home games that day.

Check out the college calendar too for the Saturday college scene. Find out when the night games are at LSU and make the trip — you won’t be disappointed — and you don’t need tickets to the game to have a great time. Also, Halloween weekend will be HUGE on the college scene, too. The inside track on the best place to be? Try the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, Fla. for the Florida/Georgia game. Plan B? Our tailgate for Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech in College Station, Texas. If you’re interested send me an e-mail (address below) and I’ll send you a map of where we’ll be on campus when we get closer to the game.

Look at the schedule. For NFL fans, the schedule doesn’t come out until mid-April. For college fans, the kick-off time is always up in the air, but plan the big games in advance and let people on the fence know which games you want them to attend.

Get your equipment right. If you haven’t done so already, put your generator on ice and do all the required maintenance. Don’t leave gasoline in the generator all Winter, Spring and Summer and expect your unit to work like a charm in the Fall. Toss in a packet of fuel stabilizer and you should be good to go.

Upgrade your equipment. A generator is the single biggest difference maker in taking your tailgating to the next level. The first three years we didn’t have one and we were limited. Now with just 2,000 watts, we have so many options that it’s ridiculous.

If you already have a generator, don’t be the guy with one of the industrial generators that makes the kind of noise typically reserved for a construction site. Do everyone a favor and purchase a new generator this year if you are “that guy”. You know the kind, just downwind, with the generator that puts out 10,000 watts and kicks off just about as many decibels, plus the gas fumes. Unbearable for everyone.

If you have anything but a Honda generator, think about buying one. After exhaustive research the A2000 is the best of the bunch for price, reliability, noise and performance.

Watch “The Training Day” with an Academy Award winning performance from Denzel Washington. Then go to Alumni get-togethers and speak with recent graduates about catching up with you and your crew at the tailgate. Potential protégé’s will bring lots of energy and fun to the table. Tell them though, that before they can attend a tailgate that they have to watch the movie too. After watching if they get “it”, you’ve got the right people coming to your tailgate. If they don’t get “it”, don’t try to explain. It’s already too late. Part of the deal is recognizing that tailgating, while certainly a performance sport, is a marathon and not a sprint. With that knowledge alone they will be well served; if not their first couple of trips will make for interesting times at your tailgate. “Too much, too soon” can be all too entertaining . . . as unfortunate as it may be for the person that’s on The Training Day.

Plan a Real Training Day. A good tailgate doesn’t come off cleanly without some good teamwork. Set up a weekend in late August where all the players get together to dust off and test out all the equipment. Make sure the TV’s work and that the beer pong table isn’t on its last leg. There’s nothing worse than getting to the first tailgate and finding out that you only have three chairs that work, a remote control that doesn’t have batteries and an empty fuel tank for the grill.

Stretch the thinking. I always bring up a few outlandish ideas that aren’t likely to be achieved during the off-season. Whether the item can’t be achieved for financial or practical reasons doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it helps make the more reasonable requests seem to be just that, more reasonable. So while you may not get the Jacuzzi you want for the tailgate, you will be able to get buy-in on the Hi-Def satellite TV package you’re looking to land.

My lead item this year is a big yellow school bus for tailgate transport. The buses run $3k to $7k and while the likelihood for this is slim to none, it helps to keep the other, more reasonable dreams alive.

Do you have other ideas? Let me know or post your comments here. (foster.flint [at] gmail dot com)