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Colorado vs. Nebraska, 9/8/18

Red balloons are released after Nebraska's first touchdown against Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Memorial Stadium.

When it comes to Nebraska, nothing is more sacred than football.

Our rich history of traditions and sportsmanship turns Memorial Stadium on gameday into the most festive place in the country. Unfortunately, one long-held tradition does not conform with modern practices: the releasing of thousands of balloons upon the Huskers’ first touchdown.

While it is visually pleasing, the act has long-term, detrimental effects. Due to wind currents, balloons can travel as far as the coast. Just this November, a balloon bearing the Husker N was found in New York by a marine biologist.

Supporters of the mass littering claim the balloons are biodegradable, but that term is loosely defined. According to the Environmental Nature Center, biodegradable latex balloons (the same kind Nebraska uses) take anywhere from six months to four years to decompose, depending on conditions. And while this is occurring, they can be ingested by unsuspecting wildlife that mistake the balloon for a meal.

The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska will survey students next month to determine whether they would like to keep the tradition.

Scott Frost has returned to Nebraska and has subsequently ushered in a new era of Husker football. We are the Husker Nation. We don’t need balloons to celebrate our victories; we can find new and sustainable ways to express our pride.

More than 21,000 balloons were released during Husker game days in 2018, but we can do better. Let's make 2019 better by banning the release of balloons at Memorial Stadium.

After all, balloons don’t tend to survive when the weather turns frosty.

Drew Havens, Lincoln

Member, Sustain UNL

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