If you’re not sure whether to take in Saturday’s game from the comfort of home or the nosebleed section of the stadium, we’ve got the pros and cons to help you decide.
Emerging from an aisle tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium, the field and crowd appear brilliantly before him. Daniel Ruettiger, Sr. exclaims “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen.”
Even forgetting the fact that Ruettiger was alive during the era of Brigette Bardot, the statement seems at best a slight embellishment but more truthfully delusional hyperbole.
Ruettiger, as portrayed by actor Ned Beatty in the 1993 movie Rudy, had always been content to watch the Irish via the pixels that flew from South Bend into the receiver ensconced by his living room couch. Whatever the sights, sounds and smells offered beneath Touchdown Jesus, they held no sway over Ruettiger who saw little need to battle traffic, weather, crowds and ticket prices simply to watch a game he could do so while also enjoying the creature comforts of his own castle.
Ah, but that all changed upon entering the sacred grounds still haunted by the ghosts of the The Four Horsemen, Angelo Bertelli and The Golden Boy. The oxygen inhaled from the game-day atmosphere created a high that not even the cynical Ruettiger could defy. The verdict was clear: Viewing the game on television was no match for attending in person.
And so the modern-day college football fan is left to settle the debate for himself: Which is better: attending a game in person or watching it on television?
Not wanting to rest solely on the judgment of Daniel Ruettiger, we offer here a more clear path to an informed vote on the issue, so provided is a primer of the pros and cons.
Atten ding The Game
- “I was there” insurance: In case of a ‘Kick Six’ or ‘Immaculate Reception,’ you will not be among the millions of people who tell a lie 50 years later when they claim to have actually been there.
- Social animals: Pack animals by nature, humans are at their best in social settings, and there is not a greater eclectic social setting than a football game.
- Pageantry: This old cliché has its merits. Only at a college football game can a band consisting of nothing but horns and drums sound cool.
- Real-time action: As opposed to watching the game at a place such as Air’s Palace, there is no such thing as tape-delay when you are in the stadium.
- Eye candy: Oh, to be young again and re-live the youth that springs eternal once setting foot again on campus. Many things may have changed about the old alma mater, but the visuals certainly have not.
- The view: From the stands, you ultimately control what you are watching, not having to rely on some producer every minute cutting to shots of some dancing banana or 3 year old in a cheerleading outfit.
- Instant replay: Yes, you get them now in the stadium on the Jumbotron. Needless to say, we never needed them before, but now suicide seems to be compelled without them.
- Crowd noise: Perhaps the biggest difference of all. Whether cheering or booing, is it not more fun when in sync with 70,000 others?
- Eye candy: Public drunkenness, foul language and unflattering outfit choices are bound to be in abundance in and around a college football game setting.
- Social animals: Pack animals by nature, humans can be at their worst in social settings. Bring on the game, and let the fan fights begin!
- No remote control: You’re stuck in the stadium at halftime, forced to listen to the marching band’s “Tribute to Doctor Who” when you’d rather just switch over to see the dramatic finish of Penn State-Maryland.
- Tight seats: Unless you’re a Bull Gator, there is the inevitability of squeezing next to a sweat-laden ex-shotput thrower. And don’t even think about using the bathroom, after which you must go through fumigation procedures in order to set foot back home.
- The view: From the stands, you are at the mercy of your section and ultimately the large support column in your way.
- Crowd noise: Inevitably, the “real” coach with the largest lungs sits in your section. He whines about every play-call and penalty flag thrown. Those who don’t support fan-beating are known to convert rather quickly in such a situation.
- Weather: Games in The Swamp used to be at noon. Now, it’s too hot for some, so many games are played at night. That still does not protect us from the hurtful precipitation known to plague our state from time to time.
- Traffic: Unfortunately, Burrito Brothers went out of business so there is nothing left to kill time while traffic subsides. Get in line and deal with it—just listen to Gene or Mick on the way home.
Watching At Home
- Chair groove: The only chair on the planet grooved to your rear end is the one sitting in your living room, not in the stadium.
- Remote control: At any time, you may switch over to This Old House or reruns of Hello, Larry.
- Concessions: You will not pay $6 for a Coke when at home, and you have the right to swill a beer without being arrested.
- “I was there”: Your mind will have convinced you anyway, so feel free to fib to everyone 50 years later and claim you were actually at the game.
- Air conditioning: Precipitation is a non-factor—unless, of course, you have satellite TV. Then you will watch a screen filled with instructions of what to do during the storm. Maybe you’ll miss a TD, but so what? You’re dry.
- Enlightened announcers: Thanks to ESPN, Kirk Herbstreit will teach you things you never before dreamed.
- The Children: Yes, dad (and mom) get their butt-grooved chairs but also must watch the game amid the torturous screams of their offspring.
- The tomb: Sounds of silence echo through the house, unless you want to cheer in solitude, in which case you’re one of those with no life anyway.
- Commercials: This is where the remote control comes in to play, unless you’re watching at Air’s Palace with three huge flat-screens and a Grain Vault concert to follow.
- UM visitors: Uninvited they come, unwanted they stay. Don’t let a ‘Cane fan through the doors on game day. You’ve been warned. (Just kidding, just kidding!)
- Honey-do list: The lawn must be mowed, the faucet needs repair and the cat just vomited. If you were actually at the game, such things would not matter. But you are home and so is the better half to keep reminding you of your duties.
Essentials For The Tailgating Fan
You’ve elected to attend the game and arrive early for the tailgating festivities. Here are some things to know and essential elements for the proper tailgate experience.
- It’s all about location. Solitude is for hikers and yetis. Park where the party is and preferably near an open field for some long-toss.
- Avoid foods that require cutlery and perhaps plates. If you must dive into a T-Bone and go all fancy-schmansy, go durable with the plates by incorporating holders such as these reusable plastic paper plate holders, $10 for a dozen on Amazon.
- If you park next to a house, make certain the cable TV is exposed so you can splice into it and pirate the source for your three television sets (just kidding!). The only exception would be if no one watches cable any more, opting for “livestream” methods. Ah, nothing screams ‘Ultimate Tailgaiting Experience’ quite like the scene of five of your house guests seated around an ice chest of craft beers all with noses buried in their respective iPads.
- Large trash bags, Solo cups and koozies can never be too abundant.
- Chairs must be light, collapsible and comfortable. The Therm-A-Rest Treo Camp Chair fits the bill but is certainly not for the tailgater on a tight budget. It’s cool, but it’s $99.95 on Amazon. For the rest of us, any folding chair will do.
- The right grill must also be safe. Try to avoid traveling with gas grills or charcoal fire hazards. An electric grill should do the trick. The Char Broil Patio Bistro is available at most Lowe’s or Home Depot stores and costs less than $200.
- Shelter is essential for the larger tailgating experience and can make things bearable during unwanted rain. Again, a unit that collapses small is better for transporting. Simple is better—you don’t want to spend 45 minutes putting up a tent. A typical cheap and easy 10-by-10 tent costs around $50, but larger ones can be just as simple to put up and take down and will cost over $100. Avoid side walls on your tent lest you be scorned upon as a hater.
- If watching games and drinking beer isn’t enough for you, try games such as corn hole. Cheap and portable is the way to go and this lightweight, portable GoSports PVC-Framed version costs just $40 on Amazon.
- Beer pong tables make a great 2-for-1 investment: useful tailgate table combined with an activity for the restless ones. You can get a beer pong table for less than $100 at Walmart.
- Avoid chef aprons, especially those with team logos. As such, you will be seen as the servant of the tailgate and be relegated to chores the whole time.
- Don’t get sucked in to buying tailgate gadgetry or filigree. A fun tailgating experience should not be much different than it was during the First Battle of Manassas (minus the carnage, of course). All it takes is good food, good drinks, good weather and good friends. And a good victory doesn’t hurt, either.