Tailgating: Break from the Norm

In the past decade or so, tailgating has taken on a life of its own. In many cases, grilling out in a parking lot with friends, with some beer and a few games has become the main attraction, more so than the actual sporting event.  A quick Google search of tailgate games pulled up over two million results. Officially a phenomenon. But, if there are so many sites devoted to tailgate games, why does one see the same games played at each and every tailgate? Don’t get me wrong, beer pong, cornhole and ladder golf are good times, but there has to be more out there.

So, I began my search, both in person and online, to find new, fun tailgate games. My goal was to find games that were easy to play, with minimal equipment.


Louisville Chugger

Combining drinking with your tailgate shenanigans is like peas and carrots. But if you’re tired of beer-pong and flip-cup, might I suggest – Louisville Chugger aka, Dizzybat. All you need are: a plastic bat, preferably emblazoned with your team logo, a can of beer and willing participants.  The first step is to cut off the handle of the bat. You should probably do this before you get to the parking lot. Consider it tailgate preparation. Next, fill the bat with the can of beer. Also, save the can – that will come in handy later. Continuing on to the most important step, pick your first victim, er, candidate. Going first will help your buddies ease into it. Next you will assume the position and begin the most fun part of your day: chug the beer in the bat, while your friends count the seconds, the louder the better. Then bend over, place the bat on your forehead and spin. The number of times you have to spin is based on how long it took to chug your beer. Your friends should be counting here, too.  Once you’ve completed all your spins, the can is pitched, and you attempt to hit it with the bat.

This game is ideal for tailgating, as it requires minimal equipment, involves drinking and draws a crowd. The only drawback is that there is no clear winner in this game.

Beer Darts

If you like your drinking tailgate games to be a bit more sedentary and low-key, but still with an element of danger, there is always Beer Darts. Again, it requires little equipment – one steel-tipped dart, two chairs, plenty of beer, two rubber mats and a minimum of two people. You can order fancy Beer Dart mats at sites such as, beerdarts.net, or just use the rubber floor mats from your car.  Situate the chairs 10-15 feet apart and place a rubber mat in front of each chair. (Some recommend attaching a piece of cardboard to the front of the chair, to protect against injury.) Place a can of beer on each rubber mat.  Throw one steel-tip dart at the opponents can on the dart mat.  If you hit your opponents can and the dart punctures the can, that person has to quickly pull the dart out of the hole and drink the beer down to the height of the hole.  Once a can is hit 2-3 times at any height, you must stand up, finish your beer and let the next player sit down.  This game is fairly fast- paced and also draws a huge crowd.

Nate Ivanowski, avid beer dart enthusiast says, “Most of the time there is a line of people with a full can of beer waiting to play.  We have been playing this game at Madison tailgates for a couple years now, and always have a blast. There have been a couple of close calls, but no injuries yet, I say yet, because it’s bound to happen.”  Official rules found on BeerDarts.net state that if a dart hits the opponent’s body, the thrower must consume their beer and is out of the game.  Clearly the major drawback to this game is bodily injury. However, no guts, no glory.

This instructional video will inform you of all you need to know to play Beer Darts.  Please note – this video is Not Safe for Work.


Yard Dice

Yard Dice

Minor gambling more your thing? Then, yard dice is for you! Yard dice follows similar rules to many bar dice games, just a whole lot bigger. For this particular dice game, you need three dice, a large bucket, three dollars and at least four opponents. Large dice can be bought, or if you are into woodcrafts, made by hand.  One person serves as the jackpot, and preferably doesn’t participate in the game.

Standing in a circle, each player rolls the dice out of the bucket. If you roll a 4, give a dollar to the person ahead of you, a 5 a dollar to the jackpot, a 6 give a dollar to the person behind you. Each person rolls once each turn. The number of dice you get for each round is in direct relation to the number of dollars you have. Example, if you rolled a 1, 3, and a 6 the first round, you give a dollar to the person behind you and roll two dice in the second round. The game is played until there is one person left with money. That person wins the jackpot. And probably should buy their friends a beer once they’re inside the stadium, as no one wants any hard feelings at their tailgate.

Occasionally, inspiration strikes and you end up creating your own tailgate game. A few years ago, a group of friends found ourselves with nowhere to go on a beautiful spring day after a Brewers win. Wanting to enjoy the weather, we began crafting our own game.

Tailgate Bowling

This game is pretty simple, yet addicting, and allows you to make up your own rules. You will need ten beer bottles, with a few extras for the inevitable breaks. A tennis ball, or any smaller non-baseball type of ball will suffice, a rubber ball also works well. Any ball that won’t easily break the bottles can be used.  Two to four people are recommended for this game. Basic bowling rules apply. You may be too tipsy to keep score, but if not, feel free to bring some chalk.

Set up five bottles on each end in a bowling pin formation, about fifteen feet apart, with two people on each end. This makes it easier to reset the bottles when they are knocked over. Each person attempts to knock over as many bottles as possible, either rolling or throwing over-or underhanded. If any bottles are knocked over, the person gets to go again. If a bottle breaks, replace it with one of the extras, or hurry up and finish your beer. Cans aren’t recommended, as they are too prone to blowing away. This game needs a fair amount of space, so playing it after your sporting-event-of-choice is over is recommended.

If, despite these hard economic times you have some cash to spare on a new tailgate game or two, there are some intriguing, obscure options.

Irish Skittles

While it doesn’t involve tasting the rainbow, it still looks pretty fun. Originally an old European lawn game, today its most commonly played in Irish and British pubs. In the U.S. it’s preferably played on concrete, thus making it a solid choice for any tailgate. The components include a skittle ring, five feet in diameter and a series of wooden pins called “throwers” and “standers”. The standers are placed around the diameter and in the center of the skittle ring, and are worth various points. Throwing underhanded, each player tosses the thrower at the ring, attempting to knock the standers out of the skittle ring. Rolling is not allowed.

This game is best played with a beer in hand, as demonstrated by Jimmy Fallon and Ed Burns in this video.

While you can purchase the official set of Irish Skittles at Tailgate Games, LLC, for $200.00,   the thriftier, industrious type could probably easily create this game for under $50.00.


Claiming to combine cornhole, horseshoes and skee ball into one game, this game could appeal to both tailgate and carnival-game lovers. Like cornhole, it has two boards, places equal distance apart, but has six lightweight balls, and allows two to four players. Since the balls are easier to throw, this enables children, or weaklings to easily play. Throwing over-or- underhanded is allowed. The scoring system is much like skee ball, in which the center ring is worth more than the outlying rings. The first person to get to 21 points wins. The equipment for this game is much smaller and more lightweight than most cornhole boards, so one could easily see its appeal.


To find out more details, including a video, check out www.tailgatingideas.com.

These are just a few of the plethora of tailgate games available. So, the next time you are headed to your favorite sporting event, leave the bags behind and try something new. And be sure to let us know about it!

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