Both Rick Reilly and Mitch Albom are well respected and well established sports writers. When it comes to tailgating, Reilly understands the rich tradition and the camaraderie tailgating provides fans before the game. Unfortunately, Albom views tailgating as an excuse to get blind drunk in the parking lot which leads to acting like a jackass inside the stadium. Both recently penned columns on the subject of tailgating.
• ESPN the Magazine – The assault on tailgating: You can take my ticket, but you can’t take away my tailgate! by Rick Reilly
• Detroit Free Press – Hey fans: Save ‘bottoms up’ for the field by Mitch Albom
Reilly currently writes for ESPN the Magazine and is a regular contributor on ESPN for the series “Homecoming”. Reilly was also a longtime columnist for Sports Illustrated and even appeared in a beer commercial with supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Albom is a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press and regularly appears on the ESPN Sunday morning program “The Sports Reporters” normally hosted by John Saunders. So why would two men with highly respected sports writing pedigrees differ so greatly on their opinion of tailgating? Maybe it is because Reilly is a tailgater and Albom has never been to one?
I am just speaking off the top of my head but I doubt Mitch Albom has taken the time to be a part of a tailgate party. How can I make such a broad and sweeping assumption? Because I have never taken a newbie tailgater tailgating and had them come away with a negative experience. Never. Maybe Albom has been tailgating a number of times in the past but didn’t like it.
I don’t claim to know the personal pre-game habits of a particular sports writer but his written disdain for tailgating hints that he has never been to one. Maybe he has lived the charmed life of being a respected sports writer and never had the opportunity to tailgate? After all, he probably arrives at the stadium a half-hour before kickoff, has a reserved parking space close to the media entrance, takes the elevator up to the media suite that is fully catered to the hilt, sets up his laptop and goes to work. Why would he want to fight for parking along with the paying public? Would you want to hob nob with the unwashed proletariat if you had a full buffet waiting for you upstairs? Let them eat brats.
It seems that even though Reilly lives the same charmed sports writer life as many of his collegues, Reilly has never turned his back on his roots. After reading Reilly’s column it was like he had been reading not only my mind but the minds of thousands of tailgaters across America. (If you haven’t already done so, go and read it now. We’ll wait.) Reilly hit the nail on the head that by gradually reducing tailgating times, restricting the types of gear you can bring and limiting the types of vehicles allowed, we as tailgaters are becoming frogs slowly boiled alived. If we as tailgaters continue to sit back and let the NFL and the colleges slowly reduce tailgating to a shadow of its former self, then we deserve to sit in gridlock and pay $9 for a watered down beer.
In reading both of these columns it is clear that Reilly has been tailgating a few times. Albom? Not sure if he has or has not. Maybe if he attends a tailgate he might change his opinion. All I can do is offer both Reilly and Albom and open invitation to visit my tailgate any day. It will then be my responsibility to show them a good time and that we as tailgaters are not all that bad.
What do you say fellas?