For the Love of the Game

There is something about a game day that excites me … the smoke-filled air, footballs being thrown around, tailgating.

I grew up an avid sports fan. I played. I watched. Maybe it was my dad’s love of the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), or my cousins who were football superstars at their high school, or my brother and his love of playing and watching the game. It was engrained in my every being. 
To me, it was something that I had no idea was optional. If, like me, you grew up the Kansas City area, you really had no choice but to know and love football. For as long as I can remember, Arrowhead has been named one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. And the fans! Well, year after year, they too have been named the craziest — and some of the best — tailgaters in the country. 
And though my tastes have transitioned, I’m still a fan. I’m just more of a tailgater than a football watcher. For me, it’s not about the sports; it’s about the social experience. It’s a place where I can gather with my friends and possibly make new ones. I believe Kansas Citians have always upped the ante when it comes to tailgating — the fact that you may or may not like football has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of women (and a few men) who go because they love the tailgating aspect.  
The Prep
When you commit to tailgating, it is serious business — right, ladies? Tailgating requires dedication, stamina and preparation. It’s not an easy game day decision, but a preplanned commitment beginning with an early wake-up call and the piling on of layers. It’s somehow managing to find a cute outfit that is both game day chic and enough to keep us warm in those winter months. 
It’s preparing food the night before and making sure the champagne is chilled for the game day mimosas, and making sure you have that essential game day iPod playlist ready. Recession or not, I’ve noticed that Sunday after Sunday, people still come out and tailgate. Large purchases like cars and vacations are put off, but come the weekend, tailgaters across the country are firing up the grill for football season. No matter if you are tailgating for the Chiefs, the Border War (KU vs. MU) or the Fall Classic (Pitt State vs. Northwest) there are plenty of tailgaters out there who do it up right. But what makes Kansas City so unique in their tailgating experiences?  
The Food
Tailgating is all about the food here in Kansas City — and we aren’t talking hot dogs or Doritos. Kansas City is all about barbeque, so it’s only natural that smell of hickory smoked meat fills the air when you step out of the car. Grills rule at Arrowhead and serious tailgaters arrive early, anxious to get their day kicked off. They wait in line for Chiefs games hours before the gates open, armed with grills, smokers, generators, coolers, chairs, games and TV’s. 
Nothing is off limits when it comes to what you can bring to a tailgate. I’ve seen salmon, steaks, chicken, shrimp, burritos, rollups, kabobs, Frito pies and bacon all cooked on a grill. Other interesting delicious, quick and easy options: breakfast casseroles in crock pots powered by the car cigarette lighter; turkey chili cooked on a portable propane gas grill; and meat and veggie kabobs grilled over a charcoal grill. 
The Drinks
Along with the variety of food options at in the parking lot at Arrowhead, you’ll find some interesting and innovative drinks. There are the usual suspects: Bloody Mary cocktails, beer, mimosas, rum and cokes, and hot chocolate powered by peppermint schnapps. If you look a little closer, you’ll find seasoned tailgaters who go above and beyond the normal game day drinks. For example, one tailgate I encountered last year had a frozen margarita machine: now that’s dedication. For those gals on a budget — or those who don’t have the ability to haul a frozen drink machine around — there are many fun and easy drinks that can be thrown together in an instant, including crowd favorites such as rum runners, summer brew, jello shots and vodka lemonade.
The Camaraderie 
No matter your location or budget, each group brings something creative to their tailgate. While food and drink are staples, it’s the gathering of the masses during each home game that makes tailgating in Kansas City unique. Next time you are at a game, take notice of the decorated cars, the yellow and red painted faces, and the many tents, flags and other sports paraphernalia that fill the parking lot with a sea of red and yellow. While you’re eating your tasty tailgate food and sipping on your favorite beverage, you just might make a friend or two for life. 
So come on out, ladies! Join the fun and be a part of the most rapidly growing  sports fan base there is: us!
Beyond a Pink Jersey
While there are plenty of women who count themselves as sports fans, did you know that the female fanbase of Fantasy Football aficionados is rapidly growing, too? Recently, I was planning to meet up with a group of friends, and my friend Jen said she couldn’t come because she was heading to Buffalo Wild Wings for her Fantasy Football draft. Immediately I giggled, but then I realized that she was serious. While we all got a good laugh at Jen’s expense, it dawned on me that she was the one who should have been laughing … at us. 
What Jen was on to — and that none of us had picked up on — is that football-loving women from all across the U.S. are getting on board with Fantasy Football. Being someone who prides herself on being in the know, I had to check out this Fantasy Football trend to see what all the fuss was about and why women were flocking to join. 
In my discovery, I’ve determined that women are the sleeping giants of the NFL. The NFL even launched an entire media campaign and clothing line geared towards women. You can practically get anything you want with your favorite NFL team on it — from hats to bags, ladies, we are covered. For years women were left on the sidelines when it came to football, both real or fantasy. But according to espnW, approximately 5.4 million women play fantasy football. And, on top of that, women have created a league of their own, complete with draft parties that will knock your socks off compared to those old, stale ones that take place in bars. But this is more than just fancy appetizers and wine; women are now putting a new twist on what has been typically a male-dominated sport.
Women love football, too, and they aren’t afraid to show it and celebrate it. Do you scream at the TV during football games? Do you love football more than your husband? You are not alone. 
It’s more than the undeniable fact that guys look amazingly hot out on the field. And it’s not because women are trying to prove that they can participate in a predominately male sporting activity. Women join Fantasy Football leagues and find time to watch several hours of football every week because they actually know what the heck is going on out there — and because they love it. 
Long gone are the days where women only watched the Super Bowl — we are not afraid to show our love of football. There are tailgates, homegates and watch parties at favorite watering holes. There are even groups of women who rent buses and head to the games together. I’ve witnessed firsthand the increasing amount of women who have football parties or go out on Sundays for hours-upon-hours of football watching. Women are out there, Kansas City, and they are celebrating their love of football, and no matter how the ball is thrown, female football fans will not be left in the backfield.



Sancy's picture

Great content.I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. Thank you so much for sharing. Sancy

Like you've said, it's not about the game, it's the social experience that drives people to sports. You should know that many other share the same enthusiasm with every game played by their favorite team. Meeting new people is very important, and each time the cornhole boards are set to play, that's exactly what happens. Childhood games are perfect for making new friends while having a great time.

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