The start of college football is the best part about the fall.

Not only are the temperatures a little cooler, but you get to spend every Saturday cheering on your favorite team with thousands of other fans.

Nothing beats the fun of a college gameday, especially the tailgates.

Although I’ve been out of college for a little over the year, the memories of the fun I had tailgating and going to football games is still as vivid as ever. However, while most of those memories are fun ones … there are some I would rather not revisit. These are the times when I probably should have cut myself off from the alcohol a little earlier or watched a friend’s intake a little bit more closely. While I can’t change the past, I can give you some advice on how to avoid looking like a hot mess at the game.

Pace yourself

Seriously. This is one of the easiest things you can do to avoid getting sick or turning into a drunken disaster. If you don’t, you or a friend could be sent to the hospital … and end up footing the ambulance bill. Make sure to eat a big breakfast/lunch and have some snacks while you’re tailgating. Don’t take too many shots at once and stick to what you feel comfortable drinking. Don’t feel pressure to drink more than you know you should … Go with your gut.

Stay hydrated

Nothing’s worse than being a little bit intoxicated and having to stand in the heat. Alcohol makes you dehydrated, and if it’s hot out, that will multiply the effects. Make sure to bring a waterbottle to your tailgate and take a few sips in between your other beverages. Once you get into the stadium, go and buy some water. You don’t have to drink it right that instant, but you’ll want to have some water on hand throughout the game. Have fun sweating!

Know when it’s time to go

You can get thrown out of a football game (or even arrested) for being grossly intoxicated. You don’t want this to happen. If you realize that you or a friend are too drunk to be at the game, it’s time to leave. You don’t want to get hurt by falling down or getting sick in the stands. At some schools, you could lose your season student tickets if you’re kicked out of a game, which means no more games for you. Take yourself out of the situation and go home.

Understand the consequences

If you’re going to drink underage out at a tailgate, you’ve got to understand that there is a possibility that you could get into some legal trouble if a law enforcement officer stops by. Your discretion makes all the difference.

Remember why you’re there

Your ultimate goal of going to the game should be to cheer on your team. If that’s not the reason you’re going to the game, you might want to reevaluate your priorities. Maybe you want to stay outside and tailgate instead. Whatever you choose is fine, but if you’re in the stadium, you’ve gotta be doing your part as a fan.

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