Peter Holland // Asst. Sports Director
A traditional tailgate at a football game is made for fans to have a pregame celebration with drinks, food and music. They will then take that fun and bring it in the stands of the stadium to cheer on their favorite team. For FIU, students do fit that category, but the fun never makes it into the stadium.
Fans have their reasons to show up to a tailgate, but not going to the actual game. For some, they’re just looking for a quick party where they know drinks, food and music will be present. Others may be so hype, they want to keep partying elsewhere instead of watching a football game.
But for most students at FIU, the primary reason why they leave after tailgating is because the football program has failed to give them a reason to cheer their hearts out for the team.
Elliott Covington, a student assistant for Parking and Transportation, understands the frustration of students who refuse to go the FIU Stadium because of the mediocrity of the football team.
“If you been going here for like two or three years and you already figured out how the team plays and don’t know if there are real improvements or nothing really to see, we would just go to a tailgate and go home,” said Covington. “People are tired of going and watching them lose, not showing us a good game so they rather just come here drinking and go home.”
Rhys Williams, a former sports director for FIU Student Media and former assistant intern for football operations, believes it’s a lot deeper than what’s expected when it comes to tailgating and student attendance.
“I think it starts from the top,” said Williams. “I think that the athletic administration needs to make it where we need to go the game as students or as the student body. And so far, the A.D. hasn’t done that, and it shows because he’s not getting a renewal of his contract, which I’m in favor of.”
Even if the football team is bad and there is no hope in the future of being winners like in the good ole days in the Sun-Belt conference, does a losing season negate students from going to games?
Chris Coibel, a sophomore studying accounting, hasn’t been captivated by the football team’s performance.
Coibel invited his friend, Barry Fernandez, to attend the homecoming game against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 22. Although Fernandez is a University of Miami student, Coibel thought it would still be a good idea for his Miami native friend to check out the Panthers on the field.
“I’ve been to a couple games and they have not been impressive, so what’s the point of going to the game if you know they’re going to lose,” said Coibel. “If the team is bad like I know it is, I’d probably go somewhere else like a party or something after.”
The sad truth is even if there are football fans that were there, they could have watched a better college football game on television than a live FIU football game. Granted, some who do go inside the stadium might know some of the football players personally such as family members, close friends and acquaintances. Yet, that might be the few hundreds that actually show up and stay in all four quarters.
At FIU, tailgating defines a new purpose during game days on a Saturday afternoon, and that is drinking enough to miss the kickoff.