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Football Sports | Under the Sun Sports | Suntan Sports

American football is often referred to as the "Greatest Game Ever Played" and Americans LOVE football! Some fans revolve their whole year around either college or pro football, pressed up against their flat screen TVs or tailgating at the stadiums. Whether you are a player, cheerleader, coach, fan or a tailgater you usually spend a great deal of your time under the sun. Suntan.com believes in protecting your skin while out in the sun, so here are some recommendations as to what you need to bring to a football game. Essentials to bring include a hat, suntan lotion, UV-protective clothing, sunglasses and some moisturizer if not already incorporated into your lotion. If you plan on enjoying alcohol while rooting for your team, remember that alcohol will dehydrate your body and you will need to offset it with water, Gatorade, or an equivalent.

Football is a massive sport in the United States, and has leagues representing almost all ages. In America, the main levels are Pop Warner, high school, college and professional football. Pop Warner is a league for kids aged 5-16, has been around since 1929 and is available in most states. This program requires that youngsters maintain a certain level of academic standards to participate. High School football is iconic in America and thousands of young men who play in high school hope to earn a scholarship and continue on playing in college. College football has an enormous following,  with some fans claiming it to be more exciting than pro football as the players have not been tainted by the big time of the pro leagues. Professional football has existed since the 1900s in a variety of leagues and associations but exists mainly in the United States as the National Football League (NFL). In Canada their league is known as the Canadian Football League (CFL). There are also Independent, Semi-Pro, Womens' and even Arena Football Leagues! Each league, association and club has slight variations on the rules and how the game is played.

Years ago, any game that involved a ball and moving it on foot was referred to as "football". Otherwise known as "tackle football" or "gridiron" outside of the United States, football is an American classic.  The game is simple, yet extremely intricate. When two teams match up to play, the victor is never decided solely on brawn. Enormous preparation and strategy is also needed to assure victory. The whole idea is to get the ball across the opposing team’s goal line, and it can be ran in, kicked in or thrown in. Doing so earns points and the team that has the most points at the end of four 15-minute quarters wins. It's all about maintaining possession and advancing the football.

Traditionally, football is a sport played in the autumn. A professional football season typically begins in late August and runs through December, into January. The playoffs are directly after and the Super Bowl is normally played the beginning of February. Training can be almost year round, but players usually begin their season while the weather is still extremely warm. The players, coaches, trainers and support personnel must take steps to keep hydrated and protect themselves from the sun. Players wear special protective equipment in practice and the games to minimize injuries such as helmets, shoulder, hip and knee pads, along with the standard uniform so these areas are protected from UV overexposure. Thomas Jones, a New York Jets running back, always smells as if he's beach-bound before he steps on the field to play or practice. The NFL football player claims to have several pregame rituals, but he says the weirdest is spraying himself before the game with sun block. No matter if it is blazing hot or 20 below, he's got Coppertone SPF 70 on. He asks the trainers to make sure it is in his packed bag. It’s not hard to see why some players use sunblock during games. In June 2009 the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, was interviewed on TV regarding college football and was sporting a seriously sunburned face. Every coach, player, trainer, and support staff (even the cheerleaders!) in football is responsible for protecting themselves from overexposure. Hats, visors, sunglasses, UV protective clothing, and sunscreen should all be used! Staying hydrated is crucial for everyone involved and players are often encouraged to drink before they are even thirsty.

One huge tradition associated with sports games and especially football, is tailgating. This ritual before the game is all about the food, drink and football. The celebration is often in the parking lot! Standard fare is normally grilled; however any type of picnic or finger food is appropriate. Hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, chicken, wings, steaks, ribs, sausages, giant hoagies and then accompanied by fabulous sides such as potato and pasta salads, BBQ beans, deviled eggs, 9-layer dip and chips and salsa. Yum! Drinks can be anything from sodas and Gatorade to hot apple cider to adult alcoholic beverages. Texas Aggie Sangria and Parking Lot Punch are a couple of favorites. If you have any tailgating photos to send to us, please email our Suntan Crew, and we will post them right here on our site!

The "typical tailgater" is usually a college educated male (79% are men!) between the ages of 35 and 44. The average tailgater hosts 6-10 parties each season and spends over $500 per year on designated tailgating food. It’s estimated that around 50% set-up 3-4 hours before the game and 95% of tailgaters prepare their food at the stadium and most use a combination of methods to cook, such as a grill, stove and smoker. Tailgaters wanting to take their gatherings to the next level have a variety of options, up to and including the "Carnivore", a one of a kind extreme 2005 Chevy Silverado 2500HD show truck for sale. Created by the serious tailgaters at Freedom Grills, this traveling sports bar and grill is made for having fun in the sun, no matter where you go! With swing out Freedom Grills on the hitch and front bumper, a refrigerated center console, "grill cam", custom wood countertops, bottle openers and enough electronics (7 TVs, 3 satellites, for starters) to make any guy envious, this is the crème de le crème of tailgating trucks. Party down, peeps! The extreme in tailgating vehicles even has an electrical outlet to keep the margarita blender going and it can be yours for just $90,000. Get your grill on!

Tips for Tailgating:

1. Tailgaters are some of the most dedicated fans! Make sure to dress comfortably in team colors. Show your team spirit. Decorate your vehicle and tailgate site with team stuff.

2. Plan to arrive up to 4 hours early and stay 1 to 2 hours after the game. Find a good spot to park. Fly a flag on a very high pole so friends can find you.

3. Plan your menu ahead and do all the food prep work before you leave for the game. Keep the menu simple but yummy, taking the weather into account.

4. Make a list of the items you want to take along. Check off items as you pack. Don't forget your paper products! Remember important items as a first aid kid, baby wipes, trash bags, and extra water.

5. It's a good idea to have the grub ready around an hour and a half before the game starts so that game-goers have time to eat and clean up.

6. Kick back, throw the football with friends, meet and then party with your tailgate neighbors and have a good time!

7. Always drink lots of water, stay in the shade when necessary and keep warm when the temps dip down. Reapply sunblock as needed if sweating from the heat.

Have any more tips, stories or ideas that you would like to add to our Suntan Sports page of the All American sport of Football, please email it to us at Suntan Crew.

-CA suntan

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