Jonathan Garthwaite

We’re banning grilling to stop terrorists! … Say again?

Last week, the National Football League officially announced that tailgating was prohibited at Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

Tailgating wasn’t specifically banned at the game but the NFL’s “items banned from stadium grounds” list certainly resembled the “items required for a successful tailgate party” recommended by the American Tailgaters Association – and yes, there really is a lobbying group for tailgater rights.

Concerns about terrorist threats in a post-9/11 world have caused the NFL to decide that “stadium grounds” at Super Bowl XLI means a security fence one to three miles out from the stadium and no beer cans, coolers, umbrellas, backpacks, footballs or frisbees allowed anywhere near the stadium.

It didn’t take long for every Colts and Bears fan with a hibachi grill and a RV on the way to Miami to start complaining – ranting how another American pastime is dead. Stories of disheartened tailgaters started popping up on the web and then, in comes an email from an ABC producer – “would love a comment on [the tailgating ban].”

After realizing that it wasn’t a story about yet another nanny-state regulation on trans-fats, my first thought was, so what! I haven’t been a card-carrying member of the tailgater club since college. I happen to think the big game looks better on my hi-def big-screen anyway. Not a 70 inch plasma – anything over 35 inches will do. And it’s certainly better than the view from any Super Bowl seat I could afford a ticket to sit in. On top of that, most of the tailgaters kvetching about the ban aren’t even planning to attend the game. They’ll simply pack up their beer, brats, and relish and stroll into the closest Hooters sports bar to watch the game. American pastime?

I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for it, but honestly, I could care less. I love football as much as the next person. And nothing beats a burger or bratwurst off the grill. But I just can’t seem to muster any passion to march down the streets demanding hibachi rights for all. Tailgating looks like its days are numbered.


Unless that’s what the terrorists want.

I’m still not going to sit here and proclaim a constitutional right to grill – even though the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association would love nothing more.

Jonathan Garthwaite

Jonathan Garthwaite is General Manager of