Smile Politely

10 ways to lose your C-U virginity, part 7: Tailgating as a contact sport

This majestic recreation, the mating call of the adult male tailgater, is sure to strike a chord with Fighting Illini alums, future alums, and those about to lose their C-U virginity on the tailgate of a Suburban in the waning light of a parking lot flood lamp.



“Dude. What are you drinkin’?”

“I dunno…”

Ahh… The sounds of fall.

Orange and blue port-a-potties, orange and blue cups of vodka and Redbull, orange and blue balls (for those just shy of losing their virginity), and the world through orange and blue colored glasses.

What would fall in C-U be without the imposition of hundreds of thousands of party-hungry, pigskin pukers stampeding to campus with the promise of another respectable football season? The extremes to which the madding horde will go is enough to frighten the leaves off even the most fervent Branch Davidian.

They travel hundreds of miles from home, to walk miles and miles from an orange and blue tent, pushing an orange and blue stroller full of orange and blue kids…

…and for what?

A couple of home games ago, The Fighting Illini were so far ahead after 20 minutes, a sea of orange and red families and fumbling freshman, exited the stadium and returned to the fertile fields of fermented beverages like the swans returning to Capistrano.

Wheel chairs, bicycles, mopeds, scooters, golf carts, skateboards, hang gliders, filled with humanity—drunk humanity—trample the fields, pee in the bushes, trash the stadium… all with the promise of a big win, or a big play, or at least a chance with the Homecoming queen. To be execute all this successful, however, they must go back and forth.

Back and forth,

Back and forth,

Back and forth…

If they are among the unlucky few to earn a cavity search and to be stripped of the Jäger-filled Ziplock wedged up in their crotch, then they have to go back and forth between the stadium and the cooler to keep the buzz at the optimum level.

Generations of grid-iron zealots who worship the helmeted hunks, the tight uniforms, the perky pompoms, and the piles of sweaty bodies spend hundreds of thousands to visit our town(s) for each game. They try and get the jump on one another for reservations, try and edge each other out of “just-the-right-spot” for their gas-guzzler, trailer and portable BBQ, and threaten rival fans with their very lives. They clog the streets, fill the hotels, jump up and down, scream at the deaf ears of the officials, and make enough racket to wake a prison guard in Danville.

To what end?

In a recent SB Nation article, writer Andy Hutchins points out the inherent sustainability of this money-making mindset.

The college sports industry doesn’t make its money on once-in-a-lifetime experiences; it uses life-long bonds to halcyon days and the lure of creating new memories on old ones latticed together to soak fans for tens of thousands of dollars in lifetime expenditures.

I guess it’s safe to say that I just don’t get it.

I stopped watching football when I realized I usually cheered for the team with the coolest helmets. I played some football in junior high. I had a good arm but I wasn’t a very good back–up quarterback for Jerry Dossett, and I was even worse at safety.

I spent fourteen years in college learning about the state of our education system in this country and attended only a handful of school sports contests. Sure, there are arguments that the millions generated each year help student athletes; I get that.

Suppose, just for a minute though…

What if we had a whole season of Illini football dedicated to refurbishing Illinois Public Libraries, and access to technology for low-income families?

What if we had a whole season of Illini football dedicated to building low-rent housing for the Illinois homeless?

What if we had a whole season of Illini football dedicated to drilling wells in third world villages plagued with water-borne illnesses?

What if we had a whole season of Illini football dedicated to retrofitting and “greening” the dilapidated public schools in our state?

I dunno…

I guess I agree with Margie.

“There’s more to life than a little bit of money. Don’t you know that?”

Check out the last installment of the C-U virginity series here.

Related Articles