STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Commentator Frank Deford has been thinking about tailgating.
FRANK DEFORD: I can't remember the last picnic I went on. How about you? I mean one of those classic old-fashioned picnics where you take a blanket and a hamper, a cooler maybe, or a thermos, and drive out to the countryside and sit down peacefully in a lovely field of wildflowers, alone with nature, and have a picnic. Really, does anybody do that anymore?
But, of course, what Americans do now is tailgate - that grand old football tradition, jammed together, on asphalt, amid exhaust fumes and exhausting vulgarities. Even late in the season, football fans will tailgate, foregathering on the cold, hard tarmac for hours, dining al fresco Americano, when it's cold and raw and very un-picnic-y. There's nothing selective about tailgating. It crosses all ethnic, racial and religious lines. You just have to like football and, likewise, alcoholic beverages. You don't even have to have a vehicle with a tailgate in order to tailgate.
I suppose the reason tailgating is so closely tied to football is because football games only come once a week and are events. In fact, traditionally, especially at college games, we refer to football weekends, not merely football games. And while tailgating has never fully migrated to other sports, there is one other entertainment where it has caught on, and that's rock concerts.
We used to think that the most popular item consumed by concertgoers was weed, and while that sort of thing has hardly gone out now, I am assured by my crack concert spies that nowadays the primary smell wafting around parking lots before concerts is more likely just to be that of good old all-American football-style hamburgers on the grill.
Concert tailgating appears to be limited, however. It is more likely to be the case where aging entertainers like Bruce Springsteen or U2 are performing. They attract a more mature, boomer audience. Teenyboppers don't tailgate. Tailgating is a sign of growing up. People tailgate before the Santa Fe Opera. Honestly. And, of course, another reason why tailgating has superseded picnics is because at least there are no ants in stadium parking lots. So does life evolve right before our eyes.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: Frank Deford's opinions evolve each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.