Game day is a big deal. The days leading up to the actual game serve as annoying obstacles standing in the way of what really matters in our lives. From the moment one game ends, the countdown begins for the next. Bye weeks are insufferable. Even the long stretches following a Thursday game can seem like forever as game-thirsty fans await their team’s next contest. If you haven’t guessed yet already, game day is a big deal.
Watching every single play of the Dallas Cowboys is a sacred experience for this fan. Having a premiere view of the game is absolutely necessary. Hearing the announcers talk about what is going on is also a requirement. And all the excessive replays of a spectacular or even a questionable play must come included in my game-watching experience. For this reason, watching NFL games live in a stadium is a no-go for me. I just can’t do it. There comes too much nervousness with the idea that I could miss something. That is why I have evolved into the ultimate homegating fan.
Cowboys games are rituals in my household. It starts with a VIP guest list that includes only three of my closest die-hard Cowboys fans. A houseful of people won’t cut it for me. Remember, proper seating and optimal listening are requirements, so we can’t just have people run amok while all the action going on. We've tried that. It doesn’t work. Homegating is a big deal, but you have to have the right people. You can’t have yappers who won’t stop talking about the increasing gas prices. Sure, that’s important, but it’s third-and-8, so let’s put a pin in it for now. There’s a time to talk and there's a time to listen. Everyone needs to focus. While the level of interest from each fan varies, we all share a great deal of passion for the Cowboys. It’s a brotherhood.
Food and beverages are tools for an enjoyable game-watching experience, but it’s important that they aren’t distractions. We have the dining area set up for the layout of all the delicious entrees, most of which are frequented during commercials. People bring their own drink, which goes into a cooler full of ice in the living room (so there’s always an ice-cold Coca-Cola within arm’s reach). The food menu changes from game to game, but three of our favorites include: taco soup, cream of chicken/green chilis dip that we use with sourdough bread, and the most popular one being pizza bread where we decorate our own slab of french bread with our favorite pizza toppings. Tasty food is important, but there’s a level of convenience that must accompany it so the game-watching experience is not disturbed.
The pre-game ritual is where we do all the food prep while we simultaneously discuss how we feel about the upcoming game. We discuss matchups, X-factor players, and even throw out our bold predictions which may or may not involve a friendly wager or two. Nothing is more satisfying than getting something right in the presence of your friends. That’s a fulfillment that goes beyond words.
Proper attire is also important. Some fans have their go-to garb where they deck themselves out in their favorite Cowboys gear. A couple of us have a ritual of wearing the jersey of who we think is going to have a big game that day. For some reason, that makes it even more satisfying when “your guy” makes a big play in the game. It’s almost like you’re connected and had something to do with your team’s success.
And that leads us to the final requirement of homegating ... celebrating. The whole point of watching this game with your fellow fanmates is so you can enjoy the action together. When the Cowboys score a touchdown, the house goes nuts. When someone makes a big play late in a close game, it’s a complete frenzy. The volume of the room can be uproarious one second and then quiet as a mouse the next as we anticipate the very next play. When the Cowboys win we celebrate together, and when they don’t, we are there to help keep our collective spirits high. Cowboys fans have been conditioned to put on a brave face as we Dr. Phil ourselves into believing Mondays will be OK as long as we have each other.
For some fans, a stadium filled with 80,000 people is the ambiance they are looking for when experiencing an NFL game. But for others, a close-knit group of diehard fans who share the same game-watching requirements is more ideal. Homegating is custom to what you desire and it creates the optimal environment for your very special day. It’s the way to experience the game because when you homegate, every day you have home-field advantage.