Can You Tailgate while Playing a Sport?

By Brian Cullen

Real talk? Real talk.

Today, we’re going to talk about drinking on the job.

Yes, drinking on the job. It’s a time-honored tradition that some of the most important and stalwart Americans have employed to take the edge off the daily grind. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

1. Jesus (uh, hello? Wedding at Cana?)

2. Teddy Roosevelt

3. Ernest Hemingway

4. Wait, hold on… ok, now me.

5. Estelle Getty

Don’t you want to count yourself amongst this august congress of individuals? I know I would. Because I do. The benefits are awesome.

So why are we talking about this on a tailgating website? Simple: we’ve stretched, diced and reassembled the definition of tailgating so many times that it currently looks like [Googling “female celebrity court appearance”] Amanda Bynes’ face. While we still have a functional definition of what this great institution can be, the question we face today, dear fellows, is:

Can you tailgate during the sport you’re playing?

Photo Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Now, if you’re anything like me, you just greeted this question with an incredulous “NO!” followed by, “well…” Because, automatically, you’re thinking that Adam “Pac Man” Jones wouldn’t get lit up before a ga- nah. That probably happened. Ok, so Donte Stallworth wouldn’t — woof. That definitely happened. But Peyton Manning wouldn’t tailgate during the big game. It matters too much.

I think, if you’re going to find common ground here, you need to find some kind of compromise between the tailgating and the sports. In other words, you need to take the drinking more seriously, and the sport less seriously. And that, my friends, leads us to one incontrovertible conclusion: recreational sports.

Yes, recreational sports. In other words, sports that, on a casual level, don’t really matter and probably won’t get televised. Sports where the competitiveness (generally speaking) takes a backseat to the fun of hanging out with your drinking buddies. In fact, the sports in question here are so nebulously defined as “sports” that we probably need to label them as “activities.” And we’ll leave it at that because the “Sports vs. Activities” debate has raged through every generation of humanity since Uthtar the Australopithecus speared a flashbulb fish for giggles back in 10,000 BC.

So, let’s take stock of a few popular activities and see whether or not we can green-light a tailgate. Before starting, it’s important to note that these sports cannot be otherwise intended to augment a tailgate, e.g. bocce, cornhole, and the like.

Let’s get to it:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Perhaps the ultimate bone of contention (heh, “Ultimate Bone of Contention”) in the “Sports vs. Activity” debate, golf gives you all the reason in the world to drink all the beers. You’re outside. You’re not running around. Since you’re driving one of those cool golf carts, you get to simulate what it’s like operating a vehicle without pulling a total (Googling “drunk celebrity driver”)… Amanda Bynes.

Heavens, someone help that poor girl.

The only real problem is, since you’re constantly on the move, there’s no real chance to grill out or anything. But, at the very least, there’s the snack cart. There, you can grab food, stock up on beers, and keep the party going.

And let’s not forget bloody Marys before the round, and whiskeys afterwards. Although, doesn’t the clubhouse feel more like tailgating than the actual round itself?

Verdict: Mayyyyyybe. I might lean closer to “no,” except in high school I worked at a country club bag room, and one time I cleaned 40 beers out of a golf cart that played 9 holes. Even worse, they told me that they found them overflowing in the trashcan on the 28th hole. I went to empty the trash, only to realize that we only had a 27-hole golf course. Not only did they drink a ton, but they outfoxed me while under the sauce! Outfoxed ME! Brian Cullen! While sauced!

This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, except to give it some sentimental credibility points.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Hang on. Let’s get this out of the way right now. (ahem).

[Google, show me “professional bowlers“!]

Okay, so, some in shape people. But some vastly out of shape people, too. This sport comes close to being a “perfect” tailgating activity. It involves sitting. Once in a blue moon, you throw a thing at some other things like Donkey Kong. They have a bar right next to you. And they usually have ballpark nachos and other greasy, disgustingly awesome fare. It’s a slippery, lacquered heaven, much like [Googles “slippery, lacquered heaven metaphors”)… Amanda Bynes? That… that doesn’t even make sense!

Now, there are bound to be some professional bowlers who don’t party during the game and stay in shape and blah blah blah. That’s great. There are professional jugglers too. I’m not interested in them. What I am interested in is the vast majority of Americans who look like jackasses while bowling, who have to escape the shame with an ongoing tailgate. It’s aces.

The only thing harming bowling’s final score, though, is: no grilling. It also loses points for not being an outdoor sport.

Verdict: Probably. It’s close, but not perfect yet.

So, how can we blend the ideas of a) being outside b) being recreational, and c) allowing people to grill?

Well sir. There’s only one answer.


Photo Credit: WAKA Kickball, Rob Ray


HANG ON, HANG ON, HANG ON, hang on, hang on. Everyone calm down. I’ve seen this debate, so I know what’s about to go down. This is probably a whole article unto itself, so I’ll try to summarize both sides.

There are many dedicated, crazy athletic (and by that I mean “crazy athletic” as well as “crazy, comma, athletic”) people out there who are traveling thousands of miles every year competing in kickball tournaments. I know them. I am friends and/or acquaintances with many of them. Now, I know the general stereotype: you think it’s a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters drinking PBR and doing it ironically. But — and this is true — one of the top ranked teams in the country features an ex-WWE wrestler. Kickball is, at its highest level, a sport that demands the strategy and coordination of some very strong, very fast people.

I am not talking about these kickball players.


Photo Credit: WAKA Kickball, Rob Ray

Kickball is the perfect tailgating sport for players that couldn’t care less. In a non-competitive game, most of you are sitting half the time. There’s just enough activity to make it interesting. And you can sneak some Solo cups on the field. Not only that, but, if you wanted to, you could designate two grill masters who could trade off cooking duties while everyone else is on the field. It’s foolproof! Constant eating and drinking while the game is going on. It’s almost enough to bring a tear to my smoke-filled, tailgate-loving eye.

Just don’t plan on getting any national rankings this way.

Verdict: Tailgate-potential Perfection.

So there you have it, sports fans. Got any other sports that are perfection for some in-action grilling? Hit me up in the comments.

Check out Brian’s Tailgating Top 10s.

Stop in at the Man Cave Daily, where the women are hot and the beer is cold.

Brian Cullen is both very concerned for Amanda Bynes and awful at every sport mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter @bucketcullen.


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