One of the saddest traditions in college sports is on hiatus as Nebraska football suspended its home game custom of releasing fly balls after Husker’s first score. For a long time, children could barely sit up before they let go of the plastic orbs filled with red helium. Now the Big Red faithful can’t get rid of the balloons fast enough as the first quarter score went from a doom to please God just throw a basket so I don’t have to lug that thing around the tailgate at halftime.
I was at an Oklahoma State game years ago when the fans sarcastically brought the balls out after the team’s first down at the end of the first half of a game where the Huskers found themselves trailing 35-0 at the break, and I must say that had to be sweeter for the Pokes than stunning the crowd into silence.
Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said a helium shortage, not environmental worries or discouraged offense, was the reason the program ditched tradition.
“Getting helium these days, some of the production of it is really hard, and it’s hard to get,” Alberts said on his radio show. “So the university asked us, the helium that we get as a university, we have to use it for medical purposes at [University of Nebraska Medical Center] in Omaha. And so this year, we are not going to provide the red balls for the first time at Memorial Stadium.
Sanctions against Russia, one of the world’s largest suppliers of helium, for its invasion of Ukraine have caused supply chain issues, and I’m sure many Republicans in my home country will find a way to blame Joe Biden for this development. Alberts’ claim that the university saves gas for UNMC patients is commendable. Sick people obviously take precedence over aesthetic visuals during a football match; and I’m glad the school found a line they won’t cross for their football team.
The thousands of pieces of trash that are literally littered a handful of times each year are a biohazard with lasting effects, unlike the smoldering piles of trash that have been strewn across the land for the past decade. The student government voted to end the tradition in November, and it was treated with as much concern as the lawsuit a Nebraskan filed against the school in 2016 on the danger of balloons to health.
For me, it’s one of those things, like option offense. This should have ended years ago. I’ve been to Memorial Stadium countless times, and not once do I remember dropping a ball. (As far as I can remember, I go to games, so I’ll have to check with my dad to see if a young Sean has ever been involved.) Just putting practice on hold tells fans that “C It’s good, it’ll come back as good as ever one day,” and that’s logic applicable to other aspects of Nebraska sports.
Husker traditions have been abandoned since Tom Osborne retired in the late 90s, and as sad as it is for fans, what’s more depressing is retaining the last vestiges of the glory years as this guy who peaked in high school. We all look like puffed-up clowns wearing decades-old letter jackets, and maybe it’s time to wipe the slate clean because no one is impressed by an impeccably maintained trophy case that hasn’t seen an addition. notable since the Big 12 conference title in 1999.
The sold-out streak, currently at 382 games, only continues because the “generous donors” buy tickets that would not otherwise be sold. Never mind that the stadium was empty – or that attendance was reduced – during the COVID years. It’s a masquerade that makes Nebraska laugh as much as Scott Frost worst collapse of the fourth quarter. How about taking that money used to support a dead tradition and distributing it in the form of NUL agreements?
trust me i know how good for an off-season the team would have made up. The Transfer Portal has been kind to Frost, and that may have been what earned him more than three wins this year. Traditions not accompanied by victories are just meaningless gestures. If Osborne had rested on his laurels after being beaten by Miami in all those Orange Bowls, he never would have revamped his way of recruiting and winning three titles in four seasons. (And, no, editor, don’t insert a note here about the unsavory characters Osborne overlooked; that college football the practice is not specific to Nebraska.)
Is it a leap to say that Alberts’ refusal to end Big Red’s exit is proof of a grueling schedule stuck in the past? Yeah, absolutely, but my god, look forward, not up to the sky because these balloons eventually come down to earth.