For the modern football fanatic, there’s only one great turf debate left to take place. But forget about the grass (or lack thereof) on the field, because we’re not just talking football; on the contrary, we’re talking tailgating! And when it comes to places where great pre-game parties take place, it’s a turf war of words (unless you’re a Raiders fan, in which case it’s probably an actual gang war).
From the grass and asphalt outside your favorite stadium, to attached arena parking structures, to that seedy bar across the street from the game you can’t afford a ticket to, there’s a litany of environments to experience, each with its own up and downsides. Before you get sucked into yet another unexpected tailgate celebration, be sure to check out our list of turf pros and cons!
Is the Grass Really Greener?
You may not find too much green grass outside of an NFL game, but hit up any NCAA event and it’s a helluva lot more likely you’ll be trampling some good ol’ fashioned Kentucky Blue Grass.
PRO: As is the norm with former players who failed to do anything else thus far in their lives, the sight and smell of green grass will undoubtedly lead to them breaking out the ball and attempting to reclaim the former glory of tackle-football games long since forgotten.
CON: Even though Brett Favre probably isn’t one of your pals, and real life rarely turns into a sepia-tone Hanes commercial, it’s VERY possible that this alcohol-infused pick-up game could just morph into an excuse for you and your buds to text each other pictures you’ll later regret.
Gravel: A Lazy Man’s Lawn
Gravel?! Where the hell are you tailgating? The trailer park where my imaginary grandmother lives? Believe it or not, gravel is everywhere, including stadium parking lots across the country…
PRO: The ground might not showcase the same sense of gridiron grandeur as that of a grassy field, but gravel certainly tops asphalt. Plus, seemingly safer than the grass, a gravel lot is certainly more conducive to a gentleman’s exhibition of classic-style two-hand touch.
CON: Every game of two-hand touch ever played has always devolved into a tackle-laden, injury-causing battle of friends-turned-enemies. Fueled by cheap beer, cheaper insults and the cheapest of meats, this situation can only go awry. And gravel is totally to blame for the injuries.
You Can Kiss My Asphalt!
Tailgating on asphalt is a lot like wearing plastic underwear. Sure, you might black out and make a total mess. Thankfully though, you can easily grab a bucket of water and wash the mess clean.
PRO: Ever notice how people toss out apple cores and cigarette butts while driving on freeways? That’s because asphalt is a naturally trashy environment, second only to a landfill. It attracts all varieties of filth, but at a glance, still somehow retains a look of cleanliness.
CON: Look a little more closely at the ground just feet from the plate of food you’re holding… notice anything? It’s stained beyond any sight you’ve ever seen, more similar to that favorite pair of boxers from when you were 15 than the windows of a nice Catholic Church. Gross.
Top o’ the Structure to You
It doesn’t get more industrial than tailgating on the top level of a stadium parking structure. But that said, where else can you pre-game at such a high elevation? Nowhere! (Maybe Denver.)
PRO: If you’ve ever been to a great Mardi Gras celebration, you know how empowering it can feel to stand on a balcony high above the rigmarole as people look up and cheer, like you were some kind of king. Pre-gaming at the peak of a parking structure is quite similar.
CON: It will only take so long before some obnoxious drunk carelessly dumps a Weber full of smoldering coals down onto the dumpster area below, inevitably starting a six-story flame that leads to a full blown riot, which subsequently gets the very game you’re tailgating cancelled.
Taking the Sports Bar Exam
If you can’t afford a ticket, and want to soak your sorrows in suds, what better place could a person be than inside a sports bar next to the stadium, packed with people of the same ilk?
PRO: Cheap beer, free food, instant friends…there isn’t much more an excited fan could ask for on a game day than an amazing tailgate, sans the elements, cars, exhaust and all other negatives of a common tailgate experience. And it sure beats doing it alone in one’s own driveway too.
CON: Finding a way home from such a situation isn’t always the easiest thing. And let’s face it: if you don’t have enough money to pay for even the cheapest seats at a game, dropping drunken dollars on an errant, post-game cab ride probably won’t be too friendly for your wallet either.
Did we leave out your favorite turf or tailgate environment? Got your own pre-game story to tell? Let’s continue this social conversation in the comment board below!
Elijah Bates leads the creative department at CitizenGlobal, a social media company in Venice Beach. When he’s not working, or contributing Best Of and Mancave articles to CBS, you’ll find him surfing the California coast & evading stingrays like trips to the dentist.