Call it an audible and know this: Upon further review, Big Red balloons will continue to be an important part of Nebraska's Game Day tradition Saturday against Arkansas State and every home game the rest of this season and, hopefully, for every other season for generations to come.
"We took another look at the helium inventory issue and how filling our game day balloons might affect hospital levels of liquid helium, and we found that the risk really was not there like we first understood," said Michael Stephens, Nebraska's associate athletic director for Marketing, Licensing and Concessions. "With that understanding and knowing that the helium shortage is being addressed by both the private sector and the federal government, we will continue celebrating the first score of every home game with the release of 2,000 red balloons - about half of what we've been producing normally."
When helium inventory levels rise, Nebraska will consider returning to the release of 4,000 to 5,000 red balloons after the first score. "Whenever the supply gets back to a normal level, we'll make a decision," Stephens said. "In the meantime, we'll continue to monitor the situation and go with 2,000 balloons every game. This time-honored tradition is an important part of Nebraska Game Day, so we did more research, took another look at the problem and found that we could continue doing it on a smaller scale."
Obviously, balloons are something Husker fans wanted to hold onto, pun intended. Now that Big Red-inflated helium will be back in Nebraska fans' hands again, please make sure to wait until the first score before releasing. Since this tradition started in the late 1950s, who knows what might happen when we reach a 100-year celebration? Maybe, just maybe, Nebraska will find enough helium to launch 100,000 balloons at once, and who wouldn't want to see something like that?