Tailgating parties are popular all over the United States. Though outdoor cooking in and around sporting events has been commonplace since the nineteenth century, the modern phenomenon of tailgating really took off in the early 1970s at college football games and later became popular at professional football and other sporting events. Recent surveys have indicated that up to one quarter of all fans attending NFL (National Football League) games are active tailgaters.
The term “tailgating” came into being from the notion that sports fans would open the tailgates of their station wagons, cook, serve and enjoy food and companionship in the parking lot of an arena or stadium before attending the sporting event. Over the decades tailgating has become much more elaborate. It is not uncommon for tailgating teams to become local or even national celebrities. Specialized equipment, from barbecue trailers to complete vehicles devoted solely to tailgate use, has come on the scene. Major food and cooking equipment companies have become sponsors. Devotees can often spend many thousand of dollars on tailgating, far eclipsing the money spent for the actual sports tickets. Teams and communities have frequently objected to the tailgating phenomenon, on the grounds that it promotes litter and crowd control issues, but the enthusiasm of tailgaters ensures that the pastime will be part of the American scene for quite some time.
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