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Tailgating, More Than a Social Event: It’s Every Sports Fan's Fantasy


“Tailgating” is partying, American style. It’s common for Americans to get together in the parking lots of sports stadiums or concert halls, hours before the actual events, to throw a party where everybody is invited. The name comes from the days when Americans drove station wagons, and lowered the tailgates to serve as a table -- or a bar -- for the partygoers. VOA’s Brian Purchia has been tailgating with people across America, and he recently met up with the self-appointed commissioner of tailgating.

JOE CAHN, THE COMMISSIONER OF TAILGATING
"This is my house... and this whole wall pushes back."

Nine years ago Joe Cahn sold his house, and his business, the New Orleans School of Cooking. He bought a motor home and appointed himself the Commissioner of Tailgating. Today, Joe Cahn is on the West Coast, in San Francisco, for a 49ers-Cardinals pro football game. NFL ANNOUNCER "Touchdown Cardinals."

JOE CAHN, THE COMMISSIONER OF TAILGATING
"Next week it will be the Raiders. Then off to the Browns, and Cincinnati, and then all the way around.... This is Sophie."

His only companion is his cat, Sophie.

JOE CAHN, THE COMMISSIONER OF TAILGATING
"The Cardinals is one of her nemesis... She likes to eat up the Cardinals" Since Joe became the first professional tailgater, he has logged more than 400,000 kilometers in his motor home, and met thousands of people.

TAILGATER
"Every NFL site, every year. He'll be here next year."

Joe doesn't discriminate; he tailgates at all types of sporting events. Most of the time he never makes it into the games.

JOE CAHN, THE COMMISSIONER OF TAILGATING
"It is the ideal American neighborhood where you are not judged by your political beliefs, you're not judged by your religion, by your race, by your ethnic background. You're judged by one criteria and that's what color jersey you have on."

DC UNITED TAILGATER
"We've been doing this since Day One. Nine seasons now."

CHICAGO BEARS FAN
"Go Bears."

And tailgating is a year-round activity, whether it's football…

CHICAGO BEARS FAN
"This is living. This is living. I look forward to this. We're gonna eat the pig and then we're gonna watch the Bears smoke the Packers."

…baseball…

TEXAS RANGERS FAN - youngster
"Go Rangers."

…or soccer…

DC UNITED FAN singing
"Ole...Ole...Ole...Ole."

People of all ages love tailgating.

DC UNITED FAN
"Did I get it?"

JOE CAHN
"It's also the best free cooking class in the world." But where did tailgating come from?

Some tailgating historians point to a football game between Harvard and Yale in 1904.

JOE CAHN
"Everybody has a story. I've met more people who have started tailgating, I've met more people whose uncles and father's started tailgating." Joe says tailgating is truly American, because European stadiums, for one, do not have enough open space near the stadium where people can tailgate.

CHICAGO BEARS FAN
"There's nothing better to with a Monday, than sit here, eat some barbecue, drink some beers and watch some football."

JOE CAHN
"In this neighborhood, what I call the last great American neighborhood, we all have a lot in common. We love sports, we love food, we love socializing”

FLORIDA GATORS FANS "
All Florida Gators stand up and holler."

JOE CAHN
"If we're on a regular street in this country and somebody walks up to us and starts talking, we back off. What do they want from us? If somebody starts talking to us in an elevator we think they're loony, but out here people just come in and talk to you."

And while Joe was talking to me, somebody he had never met before gave him a ticket to the 49ers game.

JOE CAHN
"A neighbor... a neighbor."

PARKING LOT ATTENDANT
"He's going in. He's going in. He admits it.Tell Nick that you're going into the game. Tell him."

JOE CAHN
"Nick, going into the game. Going into the game. Copy."

And Sophie the cat got her wish; the 49ers beat the Cardinals, for their first win.

JOE CAHN
"Tailgating brings the out the good in all of us or maybe only the good come out and tailgate."

The Commissioner says he will keep partying across America on the tailgating super highway.

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