“We Smoked a Gator!”

An Exploration of College Football Fans’ Instagramming of Food


  • Mark A. Slavich Grand View University
  • Brendan O’Hallarn Old Dominion University
  • Craig A. Morehead Coastal Carolina University




Instagram, social media, sport and food, symbolic interactionism, tailgating


The ritual of tailgating is a staple of college football Saturdays, particularly for fans of teams in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Fan traditions help infuse pregame gatherings around the stadiums with team spirit, as fans frequently theme their food and drink to represent their chosen team. New social media platforms—particularly photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram—have taken tailgates to the virtual space. Through interviews with participants who partake in the phenomenon, this study sought to ascertain what fans of SEC teams gain from the process of social media participation. Utilizing the critical framework of symbolic interactionism, this exploratory study examines meaning attached to the ritual and symbolism of team-specific food and drink. By sharing pictures of food and drink with supporters of their favorite team, SEC fans create a virtual community, united by fan allegiance and food and drink fellowship, realizing personal benefits such as sharing nostalgia and developing a sense of community.


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How to Cite

Slavich, M. A., O’Hallarn, B., & Morehead, C. A. (2018). “We Smoked a Gator!”: An Exploration of College Football Fans’ Instagramming of Food. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 11(1), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.2017-0026