Because I am an American I watch football. Some days I watch too much football. Well almost. Yet like most football watching fans I don’t attend many games in person. There are obvious reasons for that – expense being a big one. Tickets to football games are very expensive, parking is too. But I’m here to inform you that not only is it worth your effort to go in person to attend a professional or major college game, YOU HAVE TO TAILGATE! Why? Because it’s the greatest thing ever!
Marketing folks like myself talk about brands, audience engagement and one –to-one conversations with clients and prospects (otherwise known as people). Social network marketing is booming, (just check out Facebook’s latest earnings report). And today more than ever, the mobile web keeps us up-to-the-second and in touch with our families, friends and co-workers. (I often wonder what percentage of your FB friends are people you work or worked with and how odd is that?)
So why do I think tailgating is so great? Here are just five to start with. There are more.
- Attitude – For starters everyone that comes to a pre-game tailgate is there for a good time. I did not see anyone that was not smiling and happy to be there. At 9:30AM on a NY Jet 1PM scheduled kickoff Sunday outside MetLife Stadium, the air is already filled with the smell of charcoal and cooked meat. Footballs in a variety of sizes and colors are already flying through (some are quacking) the air. The opposition’s fans (as are the Jet fans) are decked out in full regalia.
- Camaraderie – The fans share something in common that runs deep – the undying love for their team. People that might ordinarily despise one another’s politics (if they knew) are high-fiving one another as love for the home team far outweighs love of one’s party.
- Egalitarianism – Despite the cost of tickets, parking and whatever else, there are only a limited amount of home games in a football season. People of extremely varied economic backgrounds all attend the same game, at the same time and tailgate in the parking lot – together. BMW, Ford F-150, Honda Civic – it doesn’t matter when it comes to sharing food, drink and stories. Nobody asks what you do for a living.
- Passion – Football fans, college or pro, are extremely passionate. That passion is contagious and palpable. This past Sunday the Bills plastered the Jets and there was much rejoicing amongst Bills fans and disgust amongst we Jet fans. But it wasn’t boring. We Jet fans were mad as hell but unfortunately it appears we will have to take it some more.
- Commitment – Just going to football game is a huge time commitment especially when you show up 4 hours prior to kickoff to tailgate. And then there’s the trip home, which if you leave too soon after the final gun can seem longer than the game itself.
What makes it so vastly different from social networking as practiced via Facebook and Twitter is that so many interactions with fellow fans are anonymous. As people walk by there are comments that are not tweeted but no less engaging. High fives with total strangers before and after the game are common.
Tailgating is completely social, completely unmeasured and under-monetized. And I am very thankful for that.
I think social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and Snapchat , should take note of people’s behavior while tailgating to help them better understand the way people can share their passion and common experience.
When it comes to tailgating behaviors what do you think we can learn?