How to Raise Your Kids to be Tailgate Fans

By Rochelle Bilow

You love your kids. They’re sweet, adorable little muffins who can do no wrong and adore everything you do. You’ll support them no matter what they grow up to be or how they turn out, but let’s face it: you’ll probably love them more if they turn out to be fans of your team.

Now, we’re not advocating disowning your children if they end up attending college out of state and falling for a rival team. We’re not even suggesting banning them from family reunions if it comes to pass that they hate sports (though a stern talking-to might not hurt). All we’re saying is that, maybe, there are some casual things you can do and subtle hints you can drop to nudge your little bundles of joy in the right direction. Read on to discover four sneaky ways to turn your kids into tailgate fans.

Start them young

Now, traditionally, a baby isn’t the ideal accessory for a game or tailgate party. But there’s no reason you can’t tote your wee one to the game. In fact, now that we think about it, it’s a win-win-win: you get to play the hero for doing babysitting duty, your spouse is thrilled to have the kid out of their hair and your child is getting both quality time with you and a great education. There’s no need to whisper the intricacies of a good defensive system in your baby’s ear: just being there, absorbing the culture, will get them started on the right track.

CARLSBAD, CA - NOVEMBER 9:  A player from the San Dieguito Ravens runs away from the tackles of two Carlsbad Charging Lancers during the Pop Warner Division Finals on November 9, 2002 at Carlsbad High School, in Carlsbad, California.

Photo Credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Enroll them in a team

Fact: children love playing organized sports. They’re a great way for kiddos to make new friends and engage in positive, team-building activities. While your kid may never become the start player or MVP, they will definitely have a great time. And hey, it stands to reason: if you don’t understand the sport, you won’t love the game.

Take it from this writer: a childhood of ballet and musical theatre did little to endear me to stadiums and sports. I was never pushed toward athletics and, as a result, my reaction to a ball being tossed in my direction is to duck and cry. Don’t make my parents’ mistake.

Break out the photo albums

Kids tend to groan and roll their eyes when mom and dad regale them of “tales from way back when,” but sharing stories from your crazy college tailgating days is totally different territory (just leave out the part about your stunning ability to kick a keg). Sharing pictures of your crew decked out in full face paint, jerseys and that stolen mascot costume is sure to get a giggle and subtly instill the message: this whole tailgating thing is pretty cool.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  A father and son show their support for the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Take them to a game

There’s nothing like the energy of a parking lot full of coolers and a stadium full of fans. Once they’re old enough to appreciate the beauty of it all (and old enough to avoid hourly emergency trips to the restroom), share the thrill of a live game. A parent-child trip to cheer on your favorite team is the stuff memories are made of.

The pride for a child who turns out to be your team’s second-biggest fan (you’re number one, of course) is a feeling unlike any other. It’s an admirable goal to work toward. But, just in case they turn out to be a sports-averse theatre nerd, remember this: you love your team even when they let you down. Kids are kind of like that, but much, much cuter — and sometimes, they even bring you breakfast in bed.

Get your gear for football season.

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

Rochelle Bilow is a food and wine writer who cooks with lard. To read more of her meandering thoughts on eating and drinking, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @RochelleBilow.


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