The Nebraska football program is taking the air out of one of its biggest traditions.
The team will not release balloons following its first touchdown at home — something it has done since the 1960s — according to an announcement from athletic director Trev Alberts. The Cornhuskers’ tradition will be put on hold as a result of a global helium shortage.
“Acquiring helium in today’s day and age, some of the production of it is really challenged, and it’s been hard to get,” Alberts said on his radio show on Monday, according to ESPN. “So we’ve been asked by the university, the helium that we are getting as a university, we need to use for medical purposes at [University of Nebraska Medical Center] in Omaha.
“And so we are this year not going to be providing the red balloons for the first time at Memorial Stadium.”
The helium shortage is related to the United States’ sanctions against Russia, ESPN report. While the shortage is forcing Nebraska to halt the balloon tradition, environmental concerns have also been brought to Alberts’ attention over in recent years.
Back in 2016, a Nebraska man filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that the balloons were a health hazard to children and animals once they deflated and landed on the ground. Additionally, Nebraska’s student government — though they have no control over the situation — voted to end the balloon tradition in November.
Alberts added that Nebraska’s marking department is brainstorming potential alternate celebrations, which may include digital replications of the red balloons being released.