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No Tailgating at College Football Championship Is Just One Difference From Bowls

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. — There are numerous ways through which the College Football Playoff national championship game is different from other postseason events in the game.

To start out, the matchup scheduled Monday night between Georgia and Texas Christian has much less of the circus of activities and events for players and fans that generally surrounds bowl games.

The sport itself is more businesslike, too, with the national championship providing more clear incentive for players to take the sphere than for the lower-tier bowl games that some players skip from fear of being injured ahead of the N.F.L. draft or the subsequent college season.

And for fans at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles, the game-day experience comes without perhaps college football’s biggest staple: tailgating.

Especially in college towns, tailgating is arguably as much an element of the game because the games, with fans organising R.V.s and tents, playing music and eating food, and hanging out for hours before going into the stadium. Fans have complained in regards to the lack of tailgating on the national championship game on social media, and even politicians joined in to joke that tailgating needs to be a legally protected right.

“I’m sad, you realize, tailgating is such an enormous a part of our culture down within the South for football,” said Danny Davis, who said he was a lifelong Georgia fan and traveled from Macon, Ga., to California for the sport. “It’s our Saturday church together. We fellowship, get food and sing songs and talk in regards to the glory, so it’s a bummer.”

Tailgates and bowl game experiences that cater to the fans in attendance have all the time been an element of the material of school football. Their absence Monday underscores how heavily the College Football Playoff is targeted on serving one other audience: the tens of millions of television viewers. The tv rights for the playoff are expected to swell to about $695 million for the last two seasons of its existing television contract with ESPN. Then they’re expected to fetch far more after the 2025 season, when the deal expires. The increases are tied to increasing the playoff field to 12 teams from 4, which creates more TV friendly matchups that result in a national title.

Yet the needs of television viewers have dampened moves by organizers to surround the games with hoopla for people experiencing the events in person, including fans and the teams themselves.

Conversely, Georgia and T.C.U. arrived a couple of days before their national championship matchup, and had few activities beyond directly preparing to compete.

“So far as the fan experience, it’s been very underwhelming,” Davis said. “Probably not prefer it has been up to now.”

The ban on tailgating was in effect last yr on the championship game in Indianapolis, but tailgating was tough due to cold temperatures within the 20s. On Monday in Southern California, fans similarly needed to contend with rain.

“I’m an enormous fan of tailgating; I don’t understand all that went into the choice,” said Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, whose league includes Georgia. “We now have fans that go to 12 regular season games, conference championship game, semifinal game, and so they tailgate. So now we have to think in another way in regards to the opportunities at our college football championship.”

Tailgating is recurrently allowed at SoFi Stadium, with rules and regulations which can be much like those at other stadiums. Still, the choice to not allow tailgating for fans this yr got here because “now we have limited on-site parking at SoFi Stadium and wish to make sure everyone has a protected and timely arrival for the sport,” Bill Hancock, the manager director of the College Football Playoff, said in a press release.

Organizers also had a Playoff Fan Central open over the weekend on the Los Angeles Convention Center, with interactive games, a live sports talk show, and merchandise. But some fans said that area was far more of a challenge to seek out than it has been in past years.

“The fan fest, should you didn’t know methods to do your research, most individuals are like, where are you going, what’s occurring?” said Trudi Mixon, a Georgia fan who also attended last yr’s national championship between Georgia and Alabama.

There was an official event marketed as a tailgate on Monday hosted by the College Football Playoff, named the Allstate Championship Tailgate. As fans packed into the event, huddling under tents to evade the rain and sing fight songs, missing were the R.V.s, trucks, oversized school flags and the smell of grilled food that permeates the air at a typical tailgate party.

The Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 was T.C.U.’s first bowl game since 2018 and the primary bowl in person for Preston James, a 25-year T.C.U. fan and alumnus from Tulsa, Okla. James said he tailgates all of T.C.U.’s games along with his family and friends, and that while it was still early to check experiences, he enjoyed the Fiesta Bowl more due to the various events and activities ahead of the sport.

“It was loads nicer, I feel, last week,” James said, “just the entire atmosphere itself.”

James said that Monday’s event was an excellent atmosphere but was missing some key tailgate amenities, including his favorite brand of beer. All he could drink was beer from the official sponsor of the College Football Playoff.

“This all they got,” James said, pointing to a half-full Modelo Especial. “I’m not going to lie; I’d be loads happier at once” if there have been Miller Lite available, he said.

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