Posted September 20, 2017
In Birmingham, they may indeed love the governor, but in Alabama what they feel for college football – stretching from Mobile in the southwest corner of the state to Piedmont in the northeast – borders on insanity. College football might not be religion in these parts, but it’s pretty doggone close.
The first rite of service on football Saturdays is the tailgate. Before “War Eagle!” is heard inside Jordan-Hare Stadium or “Ro-o-o-o-oll Tide!” echoes in Bryant-Denny, the football acolytes observe special pregame rituals – food, drink and the most raucous reverie you’ll find under a canopy. Think of it as an outdoor party with tens of thousands of your closest friends. Whether on The Plains at Auburn or the Quad in Tuscaloosa, energy helps set the game day stage.
Constructing a Textbook Tailgate
It starts with waves of SUVs, trucks and other conveyances arriving at various locations on and around the campuses (Auburn’s, Alabama’s) to unload tents, coolers, flags, chairs, grills and cornhole boards – most of these items produced from or with natural gas and oil. It’s a kind of land rush, with fans staking claims to choice locations to set up their tailgate base hours before the game itself.
Trucks drop their tailgates and load coolers full of ice, beer, soft drinks and water bottles into the bed. Keeping a cooler refreshed for the duration of the tailgate is Job 1. Polyethylene insulation used in coolers like Yeti’s Tundra Series helps keep the ice from melting rapidly in the heat that lingers in the southland fall. Frosty brews are a tailgate staple. As you crack that first beer, cheers to energy for making this product a reality, as breweries often use natural gas in their production processes.
Speaking of the heat, a place for your crowd to escape the sun is a good idea, accomplished with portable canopy tents. The tops provide welcome shade, with petroleum-based fabric playing defense against the sun’s searing rays.
Under these “little tops” is usually found a pretty elaborate menu. In Alabama it likely includes southern delicacies like pulled pork, crawfish, potatoes, fried okra and green beans. Plastic folding tables are set up in rows to showcase the mouthwatering options. The polyethylene table tops provide a tough, easy-to-clean, surface that is perfect for outdoor gatherings like tailgating. In the spirit of simple dining, you’ll find plastic utensils, dining wear, and Solo Cups, all made from natural gas and petroleum.
Gear Up and Get After It
There’s a dress code of sorts at the tailgate. You don’t want to be caught in orange, blue and white in Tuscaloosa on game day – not any more than you’d want to be decked out in crimson while in Auburn. At both locations fans will be draped in their school’s colors. Jerseys and performance fishing gear (PFGs) shirts are thrown on, as temporary tattoos and body paint are applied liberally. Whether it’s crimson and white or orange and blue, energy makes it possible. Jerseys and PFGs – though Columbia’s PFGs are for fishing, they’ve been absorbed into the college football closet – typically are made from polyester for lightweight durability and comfort. Ideal for tailgating and the game itself. Authentic or replica team jerseys are made from nylon and polyester, both of them petroleum-based products.
To really express team spirit, get some waterless, temporary tattoos. These easy-use accessories can be put on and taken off in a breeze. Polyethylene, a petrochemical, is used as the base material for the tattoos, providing a flexible adhesive so that they will stay on in the heat, but peel off when you’re ready.
Clearly, college game day tailgating is an energy event – not just at UA and Auburn and not just in Alabama. Tens of thousands of college football fans enjoy preparing for the game out of the bed of a pickup truck or car hatchback. Energy makes it easier, more festive, better.
Now, what’s it, nine weeks until the intrastate brawl known as the Iron Bowl, when Alabama and Auburn renew hostilities on the football field? The teams will be ready, and their fans, too, having started the game day party with epic tailgating hours before kickoff at Jodan-Hare.
More Like This
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.