Last night, the ACC Championship rolled into town. 


And a few months ago, we were feeling hopeful about the Miami Hurricanes’ chances (and had a credit), so we bought tickets.  Unfortunately, our team was not in the game (boo!). 


But fortunately for us, WE LOVE TO TAILGATE.  Do you know what’s even better than a tailgate?  A tailgate that is only a few miles away.  I don’t think I’ve ever driven less than 2 hours for a football tailgate, so the experience of being in my home city was pretty neat.


We set up our gear in a parking lot right in the middle of Uptown, surrounded by all the pretty skyscrapers.


We played games…


Others drank booze…


And I was in charge of the grill.  Of course – tailgate cooking is one of my favorite things!


Here’s our Healthy Tailgate menu:


Dinner #1:

Fake sausages on Udi’s buns with spinach, ketchup, and mustard

Blue corn chips with black bean dip from Trader Joe’s

Baked beans

Grilled asparagus


Dinner #2:

Veggie burgers on Udi’s buns with spinach, ketchup, and mustard

Grilled corn on the cob

Caramel popcorn


Yes, our tailgate experience is so long (we were in the parking lot for 5 hours) that we require two meals.  ‘Twas a lovely feast!


I’ve realized the key to cooking on my propane grill is to either bring pot tops or aluminum foil so I can wrap or cover everything before going on the grill.  Otherwise, the cold wind keeps the tops chilly and nothing gets cooked.  I’m not a huge fan of cooking on foil (here’s why) but it was the only thing that made cooking feasible last night since I forgot pot tops.



As far as the game goes…


If you watched on TV, you know Clemson crushed Virginia Tech; we have lots of Clemson friends so we were pulling for the Tigers.  Wahoo!  We were sitting in a mainly Hokies section, which wasn’t very fun once the Clemson score started to really go up.


One interesting discussion we had during the 3rd quarter (when we ended up leaving ourselves since we aren’t fans of either team and didn’t want to get stuck in traffic) is why fans leave when their team is clearly going to lose.  I am very interested in the psychology of this.  Are they fans who aren’t too invested and just don’t want to be in traffic (then why did they pay so much money to go!)?  Are they just disgusted with their team?  Are they bored?  Do they only leave when others start to leave?  Is it herd mentality?


In other news, I have never seen a drunker crowd.  Perhaps that had something to do with it.  Hmmm.


Would you leave a championship game early if your team was losing badly?  Or would you stay to the bitter end?  We have never left a Canes game early (and we lose fairly frequently).  I always think how sad the players must be to look up and see their supporters streaming down the stands!



  • Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn December 4, 2011, 9:50 am

    Ah! Tailgating is the best. It gets crazy around here at Syracuse too, especially with basketball season! That is a gorgeous outdoor stadium. I’m a fan.

  • Carla @ Will Run for Health December 4, 2011, 9:57 am

    I’m a Clemson fan and live in Clemson and when we are having a bad season (…which is sadly, pretty frequently) then I tend to notice more mass exodus from the crowds. I really think it has a lot to do with traffic too.

  • Ida December 4, 2011, 10:02 am

    I think people leave early if their team is losing and they don’t want to see the ‘other guys’ celebrate. And sitting in a ton of traffic would just be insult to injury.

  • bethany December 4, 2011, 10:04 am

    I have always wondered the same thing!!!! I don’t understand at all. I always stay until the end of any sports game I go to. I just want to get my money’s worth and make sure I don’t miss anything exciting!

  • Shari December 4, 2011, 10:07 am

    Random, but I LOVE your coat! 🙂

  • Caitlin December 4, 2011, 10:07 am

    Asparagus at a tailgate? How gourmet! I LOVE it!

  • HTPDad December 4, 2011, 10:15 am

    haha – “In other news, I have never seen a drunker crowd” – Captain Obvious wonders why!

    • Jen December 4, 2011, 9:01 pm

      @HTPDad: Ahahahaha…hilarious! 🙂

      Your Dad is funny, Caitlin!

  • Margaret December 4, 2011, 10:16 am

    My Hokies got crushed 🙁 It seems Clemson had our number. But, your tailgate looks awesome!

  • Becca December 4, 2011, 10:17 am

    As a Gators fan who had my car window smashed in and my Gators plate stolen at a game after a Miami victory, sometimes it’s about traffic, but sometimes it’s about safety. Night games are rough, and when the other team is riled up and drunk, it’s just time to go.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2011, 10:18 am

      @Becca: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT. Dude, I hate fans like that. It’s just freakin’ football. Not worth destroying other people’s property!

      • Caitlin December 4, 2011, 10:18 am

        @Caitlin: Can you drink in the UF stadium? You can drink in the Miami stadium which makes it worse I think.

  • Laura H. December 4, 2011, 10:24 am

    If it’s a blowout, and the game involves teams that we don’t have a vested interest in, my husband and I will usually leave early to beat traffic. If we’re watching a game where one of the teams we support is playing, we usually end up staying until the end, even if our team is losing. You pay money to support the team, so it makes sense to stick with them even if they’re losing.

    Your eats look yummy. I love healthy tailgate food 🙂

  • Angela December 4, 2011, 10:27 am

    I can kind of see why sports fans do it but I never understand why people do it at concerts. When I’ve paid £50+ to see a show by someone I like enough to spend that amount of money on I am staying there until the lights go up!

  • Rebecca December 4, 2011, 10:27 am

    I don’t go to sporting events (except a baseball game with DARE in elementary school and a basketball game with youth group and those soccer/softball games I was forced to attend), but I think there are multiple reasons people would leave early. Sometimes things just come up and you need to leave. But if it’s a mass exodus of fans whose team is losing, I would say they’re just disappointed and don’t want to watch the loss. I feel like some fans change the channel if they’re watching from home, too.
    But good point about the players watching all their supporters leave. Hadn’t thought of that. Kids get disappointed when their parents don’t show up to things, and I guess adults could feel sad too, for kind of that same reason.

  • Meg December 4, 2011, 10:47 am

    As a Hokie (who is also married to a die hard Hokie), who travel 4 hours to most home games in Blacksburg, and many away games…if we are about to suffer a horrible, emotional loss (like last night’s), it’s really hard to stay and watch it all go down. It’s usually never until the 4th quarter when its clear we won’t win. But it usually has to do with how hard it is to watch your team fail over and over again. We’ve come up short in a lot of important games and it becomes harder and harder every time. It doesn’t stop us from supporting our team, but leaving early does save us the pain of watching it live and seeing others celebrate in our faces. And as someone said above, it’s the same as changing the channel when your team is losing – it’s sometimes just hard to watch and you don’t want to put yourself through it!

    On the other hand, we stayed until the VERY end of the VT/Miami game this year in Blacksburg to watch one of the best victories I’ve been to in the 10 years I’ve been a Hokie! 🙂

    • Caitlin December 4, 2011, 10:48 am

      @Meg: Heheh Miami is a good team to watch your team crush 😉

      Sorry about your loss yesterday – but you guys had such an epic season!

  • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife December 4, 2011, 10:57 am

    I’m with you. I NEVER EVER EVER leave games early. I stay to the bitter end. Earlier this year, the UGA fans started to leave the South Carolina game, and when UGA pulled within a touchdown, they all turned around and went back to their seats. It disgusted me.

    Of course last night was interesting at our house. My husband went to Clemsoooon, and we met at Virginia Tech for grad school. We thought that VT would kick Clemson’s butt, since they’ve been playing so much better. Oh well . . .

  • Heather December 4, 2011, 11:08 am

    football tickets are $$$ we always stay to the end! growing up we had saints season tickets and my dad would always make us leave in the 4th quarter when the clock hit 4 minutes left (unless it was a close game then we would stay) he just didnt want to get stuck in NOLA traffic!

  • Meg @ Runridelove December 4, 2011, 11:13 am

    I would never leave a championship game early…but I mostly go to baseball games (GO RED SOX) and anything can happen in the last inning (the benefits of no time limit, a team can come back from anything). I did leave a Red Sox-Yanks game once after there was a 3 hour rain delay and we were exhausted, and it looked like the Yanks had an easy win, so we called it a night at 12:30 AM. Had we stayed until 1:30, I would have seen an amazing red sox comeback. So never again! Always stay for your team!

  • katie @ KatieDid December 4, 2011, 11:29 am

    your tailgates always look like such a blast. And your probably the only ones eating so well in the entire place!

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner December 4, 2011, 11:43 am

    With a championship game, no way I’d leave early. But if it was just a regular season game I would, just out of frustration. And I have this football season since I am unfortunately a huge STL Rams fan.

  • Khushboo December 4, 2011, 11:44 am

    I imagine they leave because of loss of hope and it’s too painful to watch defeat?

  • kelly anne December 4, 2011, 11:45 am

    I don’t have a 100% answer, but as a person who goes to a LOT of professional sporting events (I work them actually, running the scoreboards. Psychological study side note: the crowd response when I play “Make Some Noise” or other variation–lol) I have postulated a few theories over the years

    I have a few theories as to the MASS EXODUS. 

    1) First off: A serious sports fan operates with a certain level of superstition (and consequently, over-rationalization)

    2) The more frequently one goes, the more he / she takes it for granted.  Especially in the case of season ticket holders (long time), staying ’til the very end just isn’t a bit deal. 
    Whereas for people who don’t go to games often tend to stay regardless (unless they drove more than a couple hours and their team is losing)

    3) If the team is losing, and people paid to attend the game, they leave just to avoid the inevitable heartbreak.  The fans take losses FAR MORE PERSONALLY than players do.  This is explained best in the movie Fever Pitch (which is one of my fave baseball movies).

    4) The opposite also holds true.  If the team is doing awesome, people rationalize that if they leave, the team is in good hands and will be fine. 

    5)  All of these theories are thrown out the window if their team was behind and makes a big-time rally–rarely anyone leaves in this instance.

    As a side note:  as much as I love the fans, I have to sick around until the stadium clears out and I have a minimum 50 minute commute home after an event in good traffic, so I have grown to appreciate said exodus. 😀

    Wow, this was a looooooooong response.

    • kelly anne December 4, 2011, 11:49 am

      @kelly anne: Fail. Need to add: and all of this ties to traffic as well, obviously. (Which is why I failed to state it. Duh, Kelly)

  • LS December 4, 2011, 11:48 am

    We have season tickets and live an hour and a half from the school. I wouldn’t leave a championship early (probably) but we have definitely left a few regular season games early. We pay a LOT of money to have those tickets, so we think that our donation to the school’s athletic department is the most important thing. As far as physically being there the whole time, we often leave to ensure our safety on the long trip home. There is only one major way back and its absolutely packed….we frequently see people pulled over for drinking and driving. We prefer to get a little bit ahead of that if we can. Especially if its a night game. We stayed until the end of the last game of the season and did not get home until 1 AM….. ALSO we have a dog waiting on us at home or doggy daycare. Lots of reasons, few to do with disgust for our team.

  • Sarah @ w30 December 4, 2011, 12:10 pm

    It is a big pet peeve of mine when fans leave early – whether their team is winning big or losing big. I feel like either way you should support your team – and try to have fun with it! However, I guess I’ve never been to a game where I wasn’t invested in one of the teams, so I don’t know what I would have done there.

  • Mary @ stylefyles December 4, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I stay until the bitter end. I’m of the belief that anything can happen in a game. I’m a soccer fan, so it frustrates me especially in a soccer game when fans leave a 1-0 game with ten minutes left. Even if your team is getting dominated, there’s still a chance for a quick counter and goal to tie it up!

    All that said, I honestly think a lot of the leave-early’s very often have young children, which ends up contributing to their decision (kids getting antsy, etc.) That’s my guess anyways!

  • Moni'sMeals December 4, 2011, 12:17 pm

    How fun!!

    I have left early before and stayed all night too.

  • Cat December 4, 2011, 12:21 pm

    My husband & I were there courtesy of our friends who are alumni of VT & die hard football fans. We wanted to leave in the 4th because we wanted to beat the traffic. We also didn’t have to pay for our tickets (again courtesy of our friends) & didn’t have a too much of a vested interested in the game. But we didn’t leave until our friends wanted to leave & like another commenter said our friends wanted to leave in the 4th because it was just too hard for them to watch. It didn’t help that there were some Clemson fans around us making fun of VT, and our friends didn’t want to be around that anymore. It was still a great experience, though!

  • Kristyn December 4, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Girl, you are tailgate queen!!!! We need you at some jets games up here! You put our tailgates to shame. I love it!

  • Vikki December 4, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Go Tigers!

    Caitlin, you’re an excellent vegetarian tailgater, but as a non-vegetarians go, my brother’s best friend is the best tailgater that I know. On game day, we, Tigers, surround Death Valley with culinary delights. For morning games, we cook breakfast. For night games, we do lunch and dinner. At Brandon’s tailgate, I’ve seen everything everything from fried turkeys to frogmore stew (aka Low Country Boil) to an entire pig. One year, they steamed oysters. And of course, all kinds of pot-luck sides to go with it.

    In fact, most southeastern schools have great tailgating scenes. Those of you from other areas should come visit us. 🙂

  • Katie December 4, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I am a die hard Georgia Tech fan and I would never leave the game early no matter what. I like what you said about the players looking up and being disappointed with seeing their fans leave, I bet that definitely doesn’t add to the losing feeling. I believe if you a true fan you support you team no matter how they are doing.

    And I am so jealous you got to go to the game! I was hoping my Jackets could have gotten it together to be there and I would have tried to make the trip up!

  • Amber K December 4, 2011, 1:16 pm

    The only sports games I’ve been to I’ve left early. They all go way too late and I absolutely hate traffic more than anything. I usually have only gone because someone else wanted to and didn’t mind leaving. Although I never really thought about what actual sports fans might do or why.

  • Kelly December 4, 2011, 1:25 pm

    I think that if the game is during the day you start thinking about the things you could be doing. I know I do that. When my team is playing poorly and it is clear they aren’t going to win I start to think that I am wasting my time. I want to go so I can do something more productive.

  • Jill December 4, 2011, 1:26 pm

    We are Clemson fans and were at the game too!!! I have never seen more drunk people either!!! I would have loved to meet you in person!!!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing December 4, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I’ve actually never tailgated before… that’s something I need to fix!

  • Andrea of Care to Breed December 4, 2011, 1:46 pm

    The crowd probably appeared “more drunker” because you were totally sober! When I was pregnant and around people that were drinking, I often wondered if I got that stupid. Probably.

  • Amanda December 4, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I’m a Lions fan for life. You try sitting through the fourth quarter when your quarterback just throws interception after interception and you’re gown 30 points.

    Everyone in Detroit knows exactly what I mean.

    • Amanda December 4, 2011, 1:55 pm

      @Amanda: Down* Sorry.

  • Melissa P December 4, 2011, 2:01 pm

    I can only understand leaving if you have to be somewhere and need to beat traffic. Or if you have kids who are tired/cranky. I’ve been to so many games that unexpectedly went into overtime that I would’ve felt stupid if I left early.

    What do you think of fans who boo their team? That’s something I never understood. Just to let the players know that we know they’re dogging it? When I used to go Clippers games, the fans used to chant for the coach to get fired. That was sad.

    • Caitlin December 4, 2011, 2:02 pm

      @Melissa P: That is THE WORST. I feel like *real* fans would never boo their team.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife December 4, 2011, 2:05 pm

    I’ve left early but that’s because I hate traffic. But once I got married, I never left early. Haha.

  • Marissa C December 4, 2011, 2:22 pm

    I left games early in college…but never because OU was losing! This was during the Sam Bradford era when we crushing opponents and hadn’t lost a game at home in years. Usually it had something to do with a paper that was due…and we had season tix anyway!

    Good times.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats December 4, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Lol my family always left a losing chiefs game early when I was growing up. Although by early I mean 5-10 min left in the last quarter. My parents just wanted to avoid traffic!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 4, 2011, 3:36 pm

    we always stay to the end!

  • Melissa December 4, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I am a fan that stays until the bitter end regardless of outcome or weather conditions! I’ve paid and (usually) driven a considerable distance to be there, so why wouldn’t I stay?

    I’ve witnessed some amazing comebacks and heartbreaking losses…but I love my teams (Auburn and FSU) and couldn’t abandon them.

    We were also some of those crazy fans that stayed out in the monsoons at the Auburn/West Virginia game a couple of years ago b/c heck, we were already wet…might as well jusy kick back and have a good time!

  • dana December 4, 2011, 4:26 pm

    I went to VT and I’m not surprised it was a drunk crowd 🙂

    • Vikki December 4, 2011, 11:41 pm


      I went to Clemson, I’m not surprised either.

  • heather December 4, 2011, 5:02 pm

    Having to watch your team get blown out is too painful to watch sometimes! Especially when you have to see the other team’s fans celebrating . . . the skipping out on traffic part is just an added bonus.

    I would never leave early unless it was 59-0 or something, though–I’ve seen teams blow 20-point leads in a quarter (both in basketball and football), where their fans left before that, and I always wondered if they felt dumb for leaving after the third quarter and they weren’t around to watch their team make a miraculous comeback.

  • Jenn December 4, 2011, 5:09 pm

    My FI and I are both VT grads and we went down to VT this year for the Clemson game and left early b/c we were losing so bad. We tend to leave early if we’re winning or losing big to avoid traffic. The only time we stay through the end is if it’s a close game. Same goes for concerts too. We just hate event traffic.

  • crystal December 4, 2011, 5:14 pm

    I vote for disgusted. I had to turn off the Bears game today b/c even if we would have won we didn’t deserve to win.

    • Kyla December 4, 2011, 6:49 pm

      @crystal: Agreed. we really sucked it up today. So long Superbowl chances…

  • Brooke @ sweats & sweets December 4, 2011, 5:39 pm

    I was so excited for my Tigers last night! They ended the season with that they deserved, the ACC Champ title.

  • Abbie December 4, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Wow, I’d love to go to a football game. My boyfriends college team is the Hokies and it’s an aim in life of ours to watch them play live once!! I hope it was awesome

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) December 4, 2011, 5:54 pm

    My husband is a huge Houston Astros fan and while the Astros have totally blown it recently (awful last season) we usually stay until the bitter end. I agree – poor players need to see their fans stick it out with support – win or loose!

  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel December 4, 2011, 8:05 pm

    I’ve never been interested in football (minus Super Bowl Commercials and the show “Friday Night Lights”) or tailgating, but your posts keep making me want to go! Even just for the tailgating part–it looks so fun!

  • Amber @ Bold, Busy, Blessed December 4, 2011, 9:09 pm

    I don’t think I’d leave a championship game early, but we left early a few times at Penn State, when it’s freezing and raining, or snowing, and they’re losing bad and you’re just over it.

  • Alett December 4, 2011, 9:23 pm

    I have a friend who is a Virginia Tech fan but I have a feeling that they would have stayed for the entire game if they were actually there. In fact on his Facebook page he stated that Clemson played a great game and congratulated them.

    I think that people who leave games early probably want to avoid traffic; and/or they are so disgusted/upset with their team that they just cannot handle any more punishment 🙂

  • Jen December 4, 2011, 9:58 pm

    No leaving Kentucky games early for me – I have always stayed until the bitter end (which, in football, is frequently pretty bitter)! In fact, when I was a student at U.K., the student section used to taunt the early-exiters at basketball games by chanting: GO…..ALUMNI…..BEAT..THE..TRAFFIC!!!

  • Nicole December 4, 2011, 10:12 pm

    I am on team “stay for the entire game.” Yes, there are many reasons to NEED to leave a game early, but just because you don’t want to see your team lose? If that is the case: close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and go “LALALALALALALALA.”

    I’m there to support my team and the kids on the field. As long as they stay for the entire game, so will I.

  • Esen @ COOKBOOKSANDCAKE.BLOGSPOT.COM December 4, 2011, 10:53 pm

    For me, it can be too unbearable to watch! That’s what I would venture to guess, that hardcore fans just can’t bring themselves to KEEP watching when it’s already so bad. It’s the whole ‘kicking him when he’s down’ mentality, I think.

    You guys look cute at the game!


  • Katie December 4, 2011, 11:54 pm

    I went to a Redskins game today, and brought Dr. Praeger’s burgers, too! Gotta say tho, I got some pretty funny looks grilling up veggie burgers at a tail gate 🙂

  • weeee December 5, 2011, 7:46 am

    You have stopped documenting what you eat 🙁 me do not like that change… yes, it’s your blog, but it started out as a food blog. I wouldn’t want to see it “evolve” as Jenna’s Eat Live Run did

  • Rebecca @ Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous December 5, 2011, 8:00 am

    I love grilled asparagus! And so healthy!

  • Jennifer December 5, 2011, 9:13 am

    I support my team no matter what!! I do not leave games early, no matter if we’re winning by 60 or losing by 60, I’m there to cheer on my team. Same thing with the TV, I watch until the end. I only get so many games a year and I want to see all of them.

  • Krista December 5, 2011, 10:04 am

    We often go to Buffalo for NHL games (WAY cheaper than going to Toronto) and if Noah’s “team” is losing he always wants to leave early. I tell him that I don’t leave HIS games early when they’re losing so it’s not nice to do so when his team is losing….

    BTW, we usually go when Washington is in Buffalo b/c he’s a die hard Ovechkin fan…..

  • Charise December 5, 2011, 10:09 am

    My husband and I (and a bunch of friends) get season tickets for our school every season. If I were only going to 1-2 games a year, then yes, I would stay the entire time. But when we are going to 7 games over 3 months, the team is getting destroyed or doing the destroying, and we have a tailgate complete w/ satellite tv a 5 min walk away, then I do sometimes leave early and watch it on the tv w/ a beer in my hand. Or more likely, stay at the tailgate from halftime through the 3rd qtr then come back for the 4th.

    So I guess that’s a boredom thing? If it’s a close game, I stay for every minute!

    Although it’s also sometimes a can’t-stand-to-watch-anymore thing. It’s frustrating when you give so much time (we live 4 hours away!) and money to watch your team on a multiyear downward slide.

  • Carolina John December 5, 2011, 10:22 am

    That’s fantastic! I can’t believe you got to go to that game last night. ACC fans definitely know how to put down some beer. Especially Clemson rednecks (including me). Glad you had fun! I really enjoyed the game from the comfort of home.

  • Sara December 5, 2011, 10:23 am

    My husband’s blood pressure gets so high when Tech is losing badly; so he turns the game off, ha ha. We always leave live games a tiny bit early (maybe when 2-5 minutes or so is left) to beat the crowd. Go Hokies!

  • Caroline Leigh December 5, 2011, 7:25 pm

    aaahhh i was there!! my bf went to clemson, so it was a fun night for us….we definitely fit your description of the crowd…:)

  • Dee December 21, 2011, 6:46 pm

    Since you are a tailgate-lover and a runner, I thought you might appreciate this: when I was running our town’s rather large (25k runners) Turkey Trot, there were people actually tailgating along the course, mostly in the last mile toward the finish line! Full tailgate, with tent, grill, cooler & food, big group of friends. Have you ever seen that before! I totally loved them for that. (the tailgaters were great cheer-ers)

Healthy Tipping Point