VIDEO: Did the Ancient Romans Tailgate?

Posted In: RV Lifestyle, Video

According to Wikipedia, “in North America, a tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle.” Which begs the question, what is a tailgate party in South America? A form of sociopolitical rebellion? But I digress.

In the North American South (confused yet?), the most popular tailgating occurs at college football games. I daresay it’s the height of the annual social calendar. Heck, some people buy RVs and “go to games” simply to tailgate, never actually bothering to step inside the stadium and watch the contest. Why fight crowds when you can watch the game on your RV’s big screen HDTV? It’s a unique sensation to hear the stadium next door roar in approval — and THEN see a touchdown happen on TV. (You hear the roar first, since games are usually televised with a slight delay.)

Wikipedia further teaches us that tailgating “often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food.” While I’m not sure about the grilling, it’s safe to say that the former activity is involved approximately 99.78% of the time. At most tailgate parties, you don’t even need to drink. You can simply inhale the breath of a person standing nearby.

There was a time when tailgating was a simple proposition. People just tossed a few snacks into the trunks of their cars, and they were good to go. When they parked at the stadium, they lowered the tailgate (a phrase which calls to mind the wood paneled “family truckster” station wagons of yore), broke out the fried chicken, and said a fond “hello” to a man named Jack.

But like everything else in America, tailgating evolved. It became bigger and more extravagant. The social experience took on a life of its own. These days, I’m not even sure that “open tailgates” are a part of the equation.

For today’s well-equipped fan, RVs play a critical role. Camping in the shadow of a gigantic stadium heightens the sense of unfolding Romanesque drama.

With an RV, tailgating becomes a multi-day affair. Like an armada, RVs gather together to form makeshift campgrounds. There’s an extended build-up to the main event, involving a lot of what sociologists call “whoopin’, hollerin’, and adult beverage consumin’.”

I’m sure this sort of behavior has occurred whenever and wherever humans have conducted major sporting events. And yes, that includes gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome. I’ve no doubt the Romans tailgated, assuming they could obtain a valid chariot parking pass and season tickets to the gladiatorial games of their choice. (Which makes you wonder: if you bought season tickets to your favorite gladiator’s fights, and the guy got killed — did Caesar offer refunds?)

I have a friend who’s a die-hard college football fan. Once, over a frosty adult beverage, we were discussing tailgating practices in the South. My friend confessed that his lifelong dream was to RV tailgate. “That’s when I’ll know I’ve really made it,” he said, a poignant wistfulness in his voice. “To have a nice RV at a big football game? Life doesn’t get any better.”

Many people share my friend’s sentiment. Do you? 😎

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