After surviving my first home football game as a measly freshman here at the University of Michigan, I decided that I was a tailgate expert and football fan extraordinaire. I had no problem waking up at seven to get ready for game day, and I miraculously lasted all four quarters while cheering at the Big House. I even found that a quick nap after our win (Go Blue!) was enough to prepare me for a long night of studying. Needless to say, I wasn’t very well prepared for week two, which started at 3:30PM.
For some reason unbeknownst to me now, I decided to wake up at seven again. What I neglected to remember was how there were three extra hours of tailgating, and how I would need to sustain myself and my stomach throughout those additional hours of fun. So, if you’re a freshman (or any football fan, really) looking to survive a 3:30 game, I’ve got you covered.
Tip 1: Sleep in, but only a little
Even though the game starts at 3:30, the majority of tailgates still start at ten or eleven. Us Wolverines value sleep, but it seems as though we value game day extravaganzas even more. Do yourself a favor and catch a few more minutes of shut eye – you’ll thank yourself come halftime.
Tip 2: Eat a hearty breakfast
If you’re not one to eat breakfast every day, even though it is the most important meal, at least force-feed yourself the morning of game day. Tailgating on an empty stomach is just looking for trouble. The dining halls are open early enough for you to eat before your tailgate, and I recommend South or East Quad. The dining halls are buzzing with energy and are painted with maize and blue outfits, so at the least you can always brainstorm future game day outfits while filling your stomach.
Tip 3: Eat lunch too!
If you’re tailgating near a dining hall, I recommend popping in and eating lunch quickly in order to hold you over until the end of the football game. This way you’re not tempted to spend five whole dollars on that delicious soft pretzel that calls your name in the Big House. I’ve been known to stuff bananas into my rain boots for later use too – so stock up, you’ve got a long day ahead of you.
Tip 4: PACE YOURSELF
This seems to be the one everyone forgets, but as Maddy Menante (a freshman at the University of Michigan) reassured me, “This is the only rule that actually matters.” Remember that a 3:30 game means three extra hours of tailgating. I’m convinced that half the freshman class didn’t even make it to the Michigan vs. UCF game. While I’m talking about preventative measures, I also recommend taking advantage of the free hydration stations that appear in the front yards of numerous fraternities. Hydration is essential if you’re going to last the entire day.
Tip 5: Utilize the Ross Bathrooms
Since you’re hydrating so much, it’s inevitable that you will eventually have to “break the seal.” Instead of using the porta potties without toilet paper in the yard of some fraternity, walk across the street to the Ross School of Business building and use the porcelain thrones there. Not only are they much cleaner, but there seems to be minimal lines. Maybe take a power nap on one of the couches in the lobby while you’re at it.
Tip 6: Leave tailgates early(ish)!
Just because it’s a 3:30 game doesn’t mean you get to tailgate until 3:30. I recommend leaving your tailgate at 2:30, or even earlier if it’s predicted to be a decent game. This line of thinking allowed my friend and I to sit in the eleventh row during the Wisconsin game, even when our tickets are for rows 85 and 90. Those extra rows are worth any time you might have miss tailgating, especially when Michigan scores the winning touchdown eleven rows away from you.
Now that you’ve arrived at the game, I advise staying for as long as you can stand. Cheering all four quarters is a feat, so I recommend staying through halftime, so at the least then you can try to figure out how the marching band sustains those high knees the entire time. When it’s all said and done, congrats! You’ve survived your first 3:30 game and can now successfully tailgate for the duration of the season.
One last piece of advice:
Nap. Seriously, you’re going to need it if you plan to celebrate Michigan’s win that night.
Images courtesy of: Annelise Droste and University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security