The American South: A guide to the ultimate college gameday
The American South, land of cowboy boots, pickup trucks, that amazing southern drawl and… football? You bet-cha! The South may be known as the Bible-belt, but it may as well take the form of a football field, with collegiate football being followed religiously by Southerners. At campuses all across the South, life revolves around the Saturday ritual of heading over to the closest college campus, pitching up a tent and cheering loudly for the university team. While this may seem weird to us Europeans, I was fortunate to spend a season following the Ole Miss Rebels in Mississippi and oh boy is it fun. So here it is, our guide to football and tailgating in the American South.
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Rise and Shine, it’s Football time
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the excitement and appeal that surrounds college football has something, anything, to do with the game itself and I mean sure, a win is great, but no, the appeal for the game is more to do with the spectacle – the tailgate and, at Ole Miss, that means the Grove. From the amazing colour-coordinated fans to the thousands of tents – each kitted out with tv’s, buffet tables and coolers, to the parade by the band, the players, and the cheerleaders, this is the true college gameday experience.
That Southern hospitality
The South, with its own history and quirks, is by far one of the friendliest places in America, and nowhere is that more evident than at a Southern college tailgate. With thousands of people in tents and around the area just wanting to have a great time, don’t hesitate to ignore your parents and go and talk to strangers!
So, you’ve been up since the early hours of the morning drinking and playing games with the locals, been to a tailgate, seen the cheerleaders and the players and sung with the home fans at a game, all that’s left of your college experience is to hit the bars! In a small college town that means the central square will feel like the entire student population is out for a good time but hey, enjoy it! Grab some drinks and sing that school chant with everybody else, it’s what college life in the States is all about!
Tailgating and football IS the South, and with the performance and the result secondary to the experience, heading to a game while travelling through America is a great way to spend a Saturday and have a taste of that fantastic school spirit we all see in movies. Oh, and before those Rebels fans judge, HottyToddy Y’all 😉
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