It was only after completing his football eligibility and remaining on campus to finish his degree that Bondy, a fullback on Texas’ vaunted 2005 national championship team, felt he may have been missing out on something big.
“It was quite an eye-opening experience,” he says of attending his first tailgate party. “It’s a sunrise to sundown situation for many.”
Freed from his seclusion in a team hotel the night before a game, Bondy mixed with Texas students who camped overnight in spots to toss footballs, barbeque, and engage in a fair amount of drinking leading up to kickoff.
“It’s a hyper-social experience and mini-reunion every week for a lot of people,” he says, noting that he went back to every tailgate that semester, “and the fun thing is they are all rallying around Texas football.”
And the parties keep getting bigger.
‘I get tickets all the time, and I get rid of them’
Now an investment manager in Austin, Bondy was back on campus on September 15, shuffling from one tailgate event to another before his Longhorns played their rivals from the 2005 title game, USC.
They ranged from high-end alumni affairs, with deluxe buffets and open cocktail bars, to ones set in parking lots, where fans pitched tents, positioned big screens alongside beer coolers, drank shots poured down ice blocks, and stood on long lines at porta-potties.
Tailgating is a uniquely American experience, notes Daniel Shepherd, a native of Kent, England who moved to Austin with his family after stints in Dubai and Hong Kong.
“We got season tickets the moment we got here,” he says, sporting the burnt orange Texas colors on his cap, sunglasses and tee-shirt.
“For us as Brits (tailgating) doesn’t exist. You get a little bit of a pregame stuff at the bars, or something like that, but this is incredible.”
Shepherd attended his first college football tailgate in 2016, for an Alabama game at Louisiana State University — a school consistently ranked at the top of the tailgate party list.
He and his wife arrived in Baton Rouge three days early, parking their RV and enjoying a marathon session of Cajun food and booze interrupted by lawn games of horseshoes and cornhole.
News credit : Cnn