The lack of tailgating at UMBC is detrimental to the community as a whole
By Ricardo Tablada Hidalgo
Tailgating is uncommon at UMBC. A lack of formal policy and non-existent culture of tailgating contribute to this. This is a missed opportunity for the community and for athletics.
Tailgating is a staple at big sporting events around the country. Head to any stadium on game day and, weather-permitting, a crowd of individuals will be outside with their grills and music enjoying each other’s company and while throwing a ball around.
Tailgating is a cultural phenomenon that unites individuals, which is why it is truly unfortunate that it is not commonly found on the grounds of UMBC.
Currently, there is no formal policy on tailgating at UMBC. This is detrimental both to school spirit and to its athletic teams.
When asked about his opinion regarding tailgating, Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation Tim Hall believes tailgating could help with UMBC’s lack of spirit. “I’ve worked at a number of universities in my career, and I have found tailgating to be one of the key ways that you can build support, camaraderie and a sense of community in the university and its athletic programs,” Hall said.
Tailgating makes attending an athletic event more appealing while at the same time serving to unite fans of a given team. An individual may not initially want to attend a given sports event, particularly if that individual is not a fan of the particular sport in question. Yet, the idea of a pre-post-party revolving around an event is sure to attract someone who is on the fence.
Part of the problem in regards to tailgating is the fact that the athletic programs at UMBC are not as successful as they could be. Tailgating parties are events primarily focused around support for a team. It is no secret that UMBC teams have been at their best inconsistent in their success, and as such it is hard to build a culture of rabid fans when they have little incentive to root for the team.
However, this is a vicious cycle. Teams that have major support perform better on the field and attract more crowds which in turn make them better on the field.
It should be considered that UMBC is unlike other schools. The main selling point of UMBC has always been its great academic programs, as is apparent from its website tagline “An Honors University in Maryland.”
Still, this does not necessarily preclude the possibility of a strong sense of school spirit that can push its athletic programs to greater heights. Furthermore, school spirit and athletic programs can mutually reinforce each other, something that results in a net-benefit for both.
As of now, a template for a formal tailgating policy is being developed by a cross-campus committee. This template will be presented to the vice-president of student affairs. Hopefully, the outlining of a formal policy will result in driving students to create more tailgating parties and this in turn will serve to unite students and create a greater and better community.