Tents and canopies provide much more than just shade. A tent can serve as a central meeting spot and allow friends to find you at even the most crowded tailgating parties. Tents or shade structures also protect guests from the heat and sun, and can keep you cool and comfortable even on the hottest days. For tailgates that stretch over more than one day, a tent also gives you a place to spend the night once the party has ended for the day.
For the perfect tailgating setup, start with a tent or canopy that's coated with plastic to repel rain. Find a model that's easy to assemble, but also simple to fold and store. If you plan to carry your tent across the field to set up near your friends, choose one that's lightweight and portable enough to transport with ease, yet also large enough to accommodate your entire group.
If you really want to make a statement, invest in a tent or shade structure in your team colors to show your support. Some colleges or teams even sell logo tents designed for tailgating.