It’s time for The Game, but even more importantly, it’s time for The Tailgate. Recently, XC wrote a guide to football for those that might feel a little bit like a math nerd at a frat party when attending sports games. But there are also many who might find navigating a tailgate literally like being a math nerd at a frat party. The experience can be intimidating to newcomers who are unsure of how to have a good time, like freshmen or Harvard students, but as always, XC has you covered.


The tailgate does the most with what it has, given that it is a free party thrown in a parking lot. Think of it like brunch with dancing or a dancing with food. A frat party outdoors, or a picnic with the fraternities. Like if SAE’s Fratalina Wine Mixer collided with a Class of 1985 alumni reunion. A maze made up of other people. A treasure hunt for sustenance. One of those 21st birthday parties where somebody brought you so you don’t remember the host’s name. An outdoor version of Wednesday night Toad’s.


1. Sobriety is optional… for those over 21.

2. What you eat must exceed what you drink in either frequency or cumulative volume.

3. The only thing that should be more shocking than what you consume is what you wear. Approach tailgate like Halloween mixed in with the Fourth of July — lots of patriotism, lots of animal costumes.

4. You are obligated to “lose all your friends” at least once. For the full tailgate experience, lose all your friends multiple times, run into old friends, make new friends and hang out with your new friends — whose names you never learn — for the remainder of the tailgate and game.

5. The number of statuses you upload to Facebook must be exceeded by the number of photos you Instagram must be exceeded by the number of selfies you Snapchat. Good luck.

The Golden Rule: The best part of a tailgate? Unlike in football, there are no rules (except for the legal drinking age in Connecticut, which is not merely a rule but a law.)


The Grill Master: This player manages the food distribution of the tailgate. The hungrier people get, the more revered this position becomes. At some point, this person gains demi-god status.

Guy in a morphsuit: The disguised superhero of the tailgate. Clothed in a morphsuit (that 70% of the time isn’t even the team’s color), this person usually uses their anonymity to twerk on random groups of people, run around in circles, or spread morphsuit joy to all. A human beach ball.

Upperclassman Frat Bro: Usually seen wearing a snapback, and a neon bright sweater/jacket (in warmer weathers this is replaced with a lax pinny), these players are the offensive on any good tailgating team. These fratstars have made it far up enough in their fraternity to have some kind of power — over food, over alcohol or over pledges. The objective of these players is to destroy thirty cases before noon.

Hipsters in sweaters: Usually run in packs, like wolves or actually, like wooly sheep. Uniformed in clothing that is either too nice for a tailgate, or has nothing to do with the tailgate, these players stand near the back and make contemptuous remarks about their offensive counterparts.

Photo-Friendly Sorority Sister: Instagram her! No wait, she’s already all over that. But make sure you like it on Facebook. Even if you don’t, all her sorority sisters will.

The Organized Alcohol Vendor: If the tailgate attendees are Main Street, this person is Wall Street, aka Big Money. Although all the players will usually supply their own alcohol, they will most likely run out fairly early after spilling most of it, and/or dumping the rest on each other. This player will come with a set supply and distribute the alcohol accordingly after the players have exhausted their own supply.

The Common Criminal: With tightened regulations regarding alcohol at tailgates, this crafty individual has found a way to smuggle alcohol into the game. This often involves innovative containers, jugs of “I swear it’s just cider,” and a the hyper-discreet flask.

Those Two Guys Throwing a Football back and forth… and back and forth and back and forth: These players have been throwing a football back and forth for like… an hour, two hours, eternity?… No one knows when they started, but it is suspected that they provide some sort of perpetual energy from the back and forth motion of the football that powers the stadium. The same goes for those people who have been playing cornhole for like… the past hour, two hours, eternity?

The Alums: Alums are like a box of chocolates. They come in a wide variety, like all of the above. They are like the SWUG (Senior Washed Up Girl or Guy) except they are five to ten to twenty years down the washed-up line, in other words washed-up to the point of transcendence. The presence of alums is what completes the tailgate’s union of past, present and future — within the crowd you will find who you were, who you are and who you will be.


Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ can be taken as kind of a Style Book for the tailgate, with these following outfit options:

  • Your grandpa’s style. No for real – ask your grandpa – can you have his hand-me-downs?
  • Dress in all pink, ‘cept your gator shoes, those are green
  • Draped in a leopard mink, girls standin’ next to you
  • Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in, bummy and grungy, man, stuntin’ and flossin’
  • Velour jumpsuit and some house slippers
  • Dookie brown leather jacket
  • Fur fox skin
  • Flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, rock that
  • Built-in onesie with socks
  • Accessories: broken keyboard, skeet blanket, a kneeboard


Outfit change: Everywhere is the splash zone. You will get wet, you will get sweaty you will probably also lose several articles of your original clothing. XC recommends a complete outfit swap in between The Game and The Tailgate. You will also be able to get two eventual new profile pictures out of the event this way.

Toilet paper: This will quickly become the Swiss Army Knife of your tailgate repertoire. Use it to wipe down that beer you spilled, that mud you stepped on, that burrito you dropped on the floor. Wrap it around yourself for protection. Wrap it around your friends as a joke. Cover yourself for warmth. Barter it (its value will rise rapidly) for other goods.

Rain coat of armor: Protect yourself, not from rain, but from the sweat, tears, unidentified flying objects and of course, other people’s alcohol spills.

Pocket full of dollar bills: Just imagine throwing this into the crowd at the peak of tailgate. Suddenly, you have transcended yourself. You are Warren Buffett.

Harvard friend: You will want a human shield in case your rain coat of armor is insufficient.

See the XC: Intro Guide to Football here.