Marcus Connolly /The Paisano
For both college and professional sports fans, tailgating isn’t just a party. Its an extension of sports that is rapidly taking over San Antonio.
Around 80 percent of American’s admit to attending at least one tailgate or watch party a year according to Beckon Media, but for sports fanatics everywhere, tailgating is just as important as the game itself. Not only does it ensure a hearty meal before kickoff – as well as giving millions the excuse to drink uncontrollably, but it also brings together those who just want to have a good time with friends and family.
However, the fun accompanied with being surrounded by friends and family – smelling marinated patties and cheddar filled hot dogs grilling can leave many distracted from the large and unnatural portions of food being stuffed down their gullets.
Jan Tilley is a registered dietitian with over 20 years of experience as a national leader in nutrition counseling. She cooked up a few ways students and fans can still enjoy big flavors at their favorite tailgates while keeping the meals small.
“Well, tailgaters usually love their snacks and beverages. Now you can go and buy the little 90 calorie mini cans of Coke and 100-calorie snack packs,” stated Tilley. “The smaller cans and snacks save space when packing your coolers when it’s about time to tailgate.” Space and time are two things that always seem to oppose each other when it comes to tailgating. For students in particular, making the long trek from home to the tailgating scene can seem daunting.
“Fans get so excited in and for the game, that they lose track of how much time has passed,” stated Tilley, a Texas Tech alum. “With college students they will be carrying coolers, so it is best to take small foods that weigh less. Plus the waste is not much to clean up when it’s time to close everything down.”
In both the college and professional sports world, it is safe to say alcoholic beverages are the number one items in attendance at every tailgate. Tilley, who is also the president and CEO of JTA Wellness – an institute of wellness and chronic disease management – sees patients with many health complications caused by the poor “portion control” that comes when consuming too much alcohol.
“Alcohol is really big for both (college and professional sports), but it is good to have options for everyone,” noted Tilley. “If you’re going to have a lot of beer, then have Vitamin Water Zero, or just water for those who don’t want to drink.”
“I see a lot of college students, and it is mostly the freshman and sophomores, that party because it’s not about school but about getting drunk and having a good time,” continued Tilley. “About junior and senior years, right before students go off to the real world, is when you see a change that not just forces students to take a second to think but also kind of calms them down.”
No one is against having a good time, but managing the intake of foods and beverages seems to be the best solution to making sure everyone has a safe and healthy tailgate.
For those unable to make it outside the house, or during seasons when it is just too cold to fire up the grill, watch parties have always been a safe bet.
“Table-gating (as Tilly coined it) makes a great potluck, and this way all the expenses aren’t on you,” Tilley explained. “You can also make a big crock pot, and there’s baked chips – another healthy option that many forget.”
Eating healthy and limiting an appetite is not at the top of everyone’s list, but it is something that should be taken into consideration. There are fewer precautions to take when attending watch parties, but it is good manners to always keep a sound mind and sound body.
The tailgating scene and watch party madness is growing in San Antonio. Long gone are the days where fans patiently waited for their Spurs to start playing to justify a reason to throw a party. Football is here in San Antonio, and the tailgate fever associated with it is spreading.
“San Antonio is all about the party,” joked Tilley. “They will take any chance; if there is a reason to tailgate, they will rock it.”
The party has just started for fans in San Antonio, and just like football, it is here to stay.