I was in the parking area next to Yale Bowl two Saturdays ago as word spread around the clumps of tailgaters that there had been a fatality in one of the lots. Details were sketchy, but everyone seemed to know that people had been hit by a motor vehicle. And for a lot of us, the shadow of that tragedy hung over the whole day. My son was with me, and he has a knack for summing things up. "Imagine dying because you decided to go to a football game," he said sadly.
The next day, I hopped in the car after stopping at the house of a friend to watch, yes, more football, and This American Life was running a repeat of its 2009 show about Penn State when it was rated the Number One Party School. I'm sure they picked it because of the current pedophilia scandal, but what jumped out instead were the descriptions of the hard-partying tailgate culture which seemed wholesome and sad and fun and dangerous all at once.
Today, we look at the risks and rituals of tailgating.
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