2017 Top College Tailgates #3 Alabama

Photo by Lyndsey B Pugh

2017 Top College Tailgates #3 Alabama

When you’re from Alabama, you sometimes hear out-of-staters lament how seriously people in Alabama take football. What those folks don’t understand are the spots of joy success offered during troubled times and the bonds that form around the team.

And their schools probably aren’t dynasties, either.

Chris Callahan understands those things. He’s been a University of Alabama season ticketholder for 29 of his 41 years.

“It’s such a passionate tradition that it becomes a catalyst of deep human relationships,” he says. “Since people hardly ever give up tickets or tailgating spots, you have interactions with the same people for decades.”

Take, for example, a regular presence at the Callahan family tailgate: His stadium neighbor.

“I’ve been sitting next to a sweet lady from Prattville in the stadium for all of my 29 season ticket years. She and her late husband came to my wedding 16 years ago, and she made baby blankets for both of my children. She is now remarried and attends faithfully with her new husband. We met in the stadium and have been football friends for the vast majority of my life.”

Those tailgates include Callahan’s wife, father, brother, longtime friends, and often his two children. Each week is filled with ritual, including the positioning of the equipment and who brings what. And regardless of whether the team lives up to its expected ritual of national championship contention, the Callahans will be there.

“I showed up to watch the team go 3-8 under Mike Shula. Those were lean years when you come for the chicken wings and the company, not the wins,” he says. “You learn to appreciate the good times, not to expect them. I roll my eyes anytime someone complains about our team these days.”