AStateBigJon publishes the "semi-defunct" (his words not mine) House of Heat blog. He and I traded some emails, and he offered to shed some light onto the ASU Tailgate Culture that we can expect to encounter. His preface to me:
"As an ASU alum and a native Southerner (parents now live in Savannah), I have a unique perspective on the match up and I would like to help out if possible."As a point of background, Kanu and I found the ASU tailgating rules when we were researching the issue of how to get tickets to the UGA vs. ASU game. When we saw "no tailgating until 3.5 hours before kickoff" and the "no hard liquor" rule, I responded. "These people live like savages." From there, the UGA fans who've heard of the rules have ventured over to ASU message boards to ask..."Seriously?"
Below, Jon takes a shot at explaining why they are so different, and what we can expect using analogies that we can all relate to.
If you haven’t been checking out related scout.com message boards, the Arizona State-Georgia game looks to be a clash in cultures. I grew up in the Southeast and attended Arizona State, and quite frankly some of the differences appall me as well. I’ll try to tackle the differences and dispel some of the myths, having fully experienced both sides of the fence. We’ll start with the subject that seems to weigh most heavily on the minds of the Dawg die hards…
We don’t tailgate. I went to a South Carolina high school where people tailgated our games, so when I showed up in Tempe as a wide-eyed 18 year-old I too was given a “huh?” response when asking upperclassmen where the good tailgating spots were. There’s a perfect storm of circumstances that prevent a swath of all-day cookouts and beer guzzling, the major ones are such:
It’s really, really hot. Like the scorch of a thousand suns hot. A September day in Georgia is no picnic either, but the Arizona sun is a completely different animal. I once got a sunburn in Tempe before 9 am, so the thought of tending the grill all day doesn’t appeal to me all that much. That “it’s a dry heat” business is factual, but comfort-wise a double 90 day in the coastal empire is comparable to a 110+ degree afternoon in the valley of the sun.
I have always described a dry heat as presetting an oven to 350 degrees, leaning towards the door, and feeling the blast when you open it. In recent years the ASU administration has fought to keep kickoff times at 7pm or later for any home game before mid October, but tv and the magnitude of this game dictates otherwise. It’s a 5 pm local kickoff, and you’ll probably hear a heap of complaining, mostly from anyone seated on the East side of the stadium.
We lack the infrastructure. My girlfriend is a North Florida native, and when I took her to a game in 2005 her comment from the flight into town in was “where are all the trees?” She complained about the Tempe heat throughout the trip, and it was Thanksgiving weekend [emphasis added]. Lot 59 is the main parking area for Sun Devil Stadium, and the only shade you’ll find in the vast asphalt wasteland comes from the light posts.
The lack of trees and grass means that your 105 degree tailgate gets closer to 115 degrees due to the heat that radiates from the asphalt and vehicles. This is a stark contrast from the oak-lined campus in Athens, which is a fine segue to the next point:
Like the weather, the campus is really dry. There are a great number of ideal, shade-covered spots on campus where one could park the RV and fire up the grill, but our current administration frowns on that sort of thing. After a multi-year reign atop Playboy magazine’s list of the best party schools, the University has taken great strides to ditch the image.
Dr. Michael Crow was appointed as president in 1999 from Columbia (NY) and has implanted several policies to thwart alcohol-themed fun of any kind, including the choking out of the Greek system and a partnership with the Tempe Police Department known as the “Party Patrol,” where the police target house parties. This attitude is probably the driving force behind the policy prohibiting tailgating beyond the three hours prior to kickoff. Even on game day, central campus will be a complete ghost town.
The folks out West aren’t very social. This is just a theory of mine, but I feel like the great atmosphere of college athletics comes from the camaraderie shared among alumni, something the professional counterpart can’t seem to recreate. One of the biggest cultural shocks for me is that there just aren’t a lot of openly friendly people in Arizona. It’s not that they aren’t nice, but you won’t see anyone wave at you, don’t expect a lot of “thanks for coming and good luck to you” comments from strangers, and you likely won’t be invited to participate an any local reindeer games just because you’re from out of town.
This is most obviously expressed in the local architecture and planning of the area, as house facades are garage dominated, there are no front porches, and backyards usually boast 7-foot high cinder block walls on all sides. It’s very Brave New World, and the person that thrives in this environment isn’t usually the type to grab a rolling cooler and set out to say “hi” to a bunch of strangers. See mom, I’m using my Urban Planning degree!
It’s not like tailgating doesn’t exist at all, it’s just a watered down version of what SEC folks are used to. Alternatives? My group of friends usually held a daytime house party/cookout to watch the out of town games. We would typically head to the downtown Mill Avenue bars for an hour or so before the game and hit the gate minutes before kickoff. It’s hard to advise what to do as lodging situations will be different for most, but if the internet holds an accurate portrayal of a fan base it seems that you’ll be bringing your own fun to the desert.
I sincerely hope you can show the Sun Devils how to have a good time because, as Mr. Westerdawg describes our tailgating procedures, “these people live like savages.”