Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



The History of Tailgating 5

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Martin Banks

Tailgating has become such an integral part of American sports that it’s hard to imagine a time without hours of grilling, drinking and socializing before a game. Nowadays, tailgating is prevalent in nearly every major sporting event, but it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that fans would meet and party before every match, game or contest. Tailgating has come a long way from its inception: pioneers of the act led the way to portable grills, booming stereos, cold beer and casual games. So let’s look at how tailgating came about and how it has become so popular.

First Instance

battle-of-bull-run-posterBelieve it or not, tailgating didn’t have anything to do with sports in the very beginning. In fact, the first-known instance of tailgating occurred during a much more serious event in American history than any football or baseball game. In 1861, the Battle of Bull Run marked an historical event in both the Civil War and the act of tailgating. Onlookers enjoyed picnic-style meals while cheering on soldiers during the battle. This marked the inaugural tailgate party, however strange it may seem.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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