Sherry didn’t always feel this way. There was a time when he considered tailgating a boisterous nuisance, little more than a gauntlet of unrelated and unruly celebrations to be run if he were to reach his seat in Notre Dame Stadium. But then he had an epiphany: What if there was meaning to the madness?
“One day I slowed down and paid attention to things that were going on that weren’t individual celebrations,” he said of research presented in A Cultural Analysis of Tailgating. “It was much more nuanced that I had thought before.”
Sherry consulted the existing literature on the subject and found bupkis. Most studies on tailgating come to Onion-esque conclusions like “tailgating leads to drunkenness” or examine the environmental impact (.pdf) of all that trash. Sherry looked deeper into tailgating and saw a whole lot of consumption akin to that of, say, ancient harvest festivals.