The iPhone sent out a piercing blare at 6:30 am, ringing in unison with other students’ alarms across Boston College’s campus. It was the third football game day of the school year, and tailgating started in an hour and a half. Emily Finn, a senior at Boston College, rolled out of her bed and into her maroon and gold gear to watch her team play Louiseville. Saturday’s forecast: 90% chance of rain and 50 degree weather. Still, Finn was determined to play her part and set up a successful tailgate. Rain or shine.
She hailed an uber and booked it to Bruegger’s Bagels, where she had an array of 48 bagels and six different types of cream cheese waiting for her, already toasted and pre-sliced. She had ordered them two weeks in advance. Her other roommates were racing to a nearby Dunkin’ to collect several boxes of coffee, Finn’s next door neighbors were bringing mimosas and banana bread, her dad was bringing hot dogs and peppers to grill, and her friends’ parents were bringing everything in between: brownies, fruit salad, bloody mary’s, donuts, and burgers. Finn arrived at the tailgate as her roommate neared with her Honda CRV (the lucky car for the day), promptly unfolded the BC painted folding table, and laid out the bagels next to the parking spot. She helped herself to a hot cinnamon-raisin bagel with honey-walnut cream cheese as she waited for the others to arrive. She exhaled a long breath. The bagels had made it to the tailgate.
Tailgating is an activity many college students, alum, and general sports fans are familiar with. It’s a social gathering where friends and fans alike can share a casual meal with one another, typically served out of the back of cars in parking lots near the main sporting events—usually, a football game. This process lasts several hours, which is partially a product of the amount of effort put into preparing the food for the tailgate. Tailgating helps bring people together who are part of a community, and the food plays a large role in cultivating this inclusive environment.
For Finn, she was willing to put in extra effort because she has grown up going to Boston sporting games, where parents, friends of friends, and even strangers have been hospitable to her at the tailgates. “Everybody is so generous—people really are willing to provide for anybody cheering for their team,” said Finn. She said these experiences, in combination with her school’s pride, are why she wants to go the extra mile for her tailgates. “I love the Boston College spirit and everybody gathering at school together for the same purpose,” said Finn. Bringing food, even if it was only bagels from a nearby noshery, is important to her because it is her way of showing this spirit.
“Just like on holidays, it feels good to take care to prepare something special for a special occasion,” Finn said. And the same goes for tailgating, “especially for families who spend so much money on having a tailgating spot and traveling regardless of how far the game is,” said Finn. She compared bringing her Bruegger’s Bagels to bringing a dessert to a holiday party. “It feels good to do this because game day is a special day,” said Finn. That Saturday, Finn got to watch Boston College’s football team beat Louisville, all on a full stomach of her favorite tailgating food—hotdogs.
Cover photo courtesy of Carson Locker