Tailgatingthe glory and conflict

Like any other male bonding experience, Ames High tailgate has grills, games and girls—”but no booze,” said senior Matt Lee. The tailgating scene is dynamic, with organizations constantly forming and dissolving. Senior Anson Woodin, one of the mainstays of Malegate, said that in the past, there were around four or five tailgating groups, each with a few dozen members. Team Tailgate, one of the dominant groups in the past disappeared just this year. “They only let upperclassmen into Team Tailgate, so the freshmen and sophomores formed their own tailgate. When [Team Tailgate members] graduated, Team Tailgate fell apart,” said Woodin. Woodin’s own Malegate currently has a 50-member contact list. Right before each sporting event, tailgaters contact each other to schedule times and organize supplies. “It doesn’t even have to be a football game,” said senior Stephen Sawyer. “Sometime we tailgate at soccer games. It’s all-year round.” Students hold the usual festivities—grilling assorted brats and burgers, tossing Frisbees, raving—in addition to some activities Woodin was wary to disclose, such as “half-naked Twister in the rain” and the infamous “socker-bopper fights”—combat with kiddie-sized inflatable cushions. “We beat the s— out of each other,” Woodin said, regarding socker-boppers. In general, tailgaters have not had any major conflicts with the school, but several run-ins with the rules and the administration have still occurred. Athletic director Judge Johnston described one incident in which “music laced with profanity” had disturbed nearby residents. Senior Nate Ryan admits that someone had driven a car around the parking lot and played “Parental Advisory” CDs on full volume. “And that was after [associate principal] Paulson unplugged our amp,” he said. Several tailgaters have also found the rule banning tailgating at away games undesirable. “We have a gentleman’s agreement with the other CIML schools to only allow students to tailgate at home games,” Johnston said. Many schools have concerns regarding tailgaters’ inadequate cleanup after games. “We tailgate at away games anyway,” Woodin said. “We just do it off-campus, and there’s nothing much they can do about it.” “They have so many rules and regulations. There are so many necessities for tailgate. Like we have to provide our own power,” senior Stephen Sawyer said. Lee, Sawyer and Woodin agreed that “the administration was against them.” Woodin did not mind the fire safety requirement that all tailgate groups have fire extinguishers on site, but he did add that his group’s was “probably empty.” Nevertheless, Johnston has an overall positive view of the tailgaters. “My primary concern is that [tailgaters] clean up after games. They do a pretty good job, and they should continue to do so,” he said.