The University of Nebraska will end its decades-long tradition of dropping balls at Huskers football games due to a helium shortage.
On Monday, University of Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts announced the tradition will end at Memorial Stadium during the 2022 football season.
“While we are always concerned about the environmental impact of balloons, the reality is helium acquisition these days, given that some of its production is really challenged and it has been difficult to get,” Alberts said Monday of the Huskers. Radio Network.
“And so the university asked us that the helium that we get as a university we have to use for medical purposes at UNMC [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.
Since the 1960s, Nebraska football fans have tossed red balloons into the sky after the Huskers scored their first touchdown in every game.
Alberts said the university will work with Nebraska’s marketing department to try to find another way to keep the tradition alive, possibly with digital balloons.
According to Alberts, the scarcity of helium is linked, at least in part, to the region of the world in which it is produced.
“As we looked at it as a sports department, it became pretty clear…a very limited supply of helium,” Alberts continued. “And that was going to be difficult to get, and some of the supply chain issues that exist right now. I think some of the helium, if I’m not mistaken, is in Russia.
Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, is not the first sports venue to pause a tradition of dropping balls.
In April, the Indianapolis 500 announced that it would break the tradition of releasing thousands of pre-race balloons due to environmental concerns.
This is the third year in a row that the tradition has been scrapped, with the previous two years mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize that the release has become more controversial in recent years,” vice president of communications Alex Damron told IndyStar in April. “We have received significant feedback from groups and individuals who oppose it as well as a growing number of our fans. Our goal with the pre-race celebration is always to bring people together.
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 29.