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It was hot as students tightly squeezed into the sold out student section of Spanos Stadium, having little room to move around let alone find their seat. Excitement erupted from all sections in the stands as fans from all over the central coast focused on the game while others focused their aim –– throwing tortillas on the field.
Nearly 11,000 fans attended this year’s Blue-Green Rivalry on Oct. 16, an annual Cal Poly Men’s Soccer event that takes place against the University of California (UC) Santa Barbara Gauchos.
While fans were getting swept away in the heat of the game, Charles Harlon, a Miller Event Management security guard, was busy trying to keep fans and the athletes on the field safe.
According to Harlon, he was greeted with a middle finger from Cal Poly students when asking for directions to Spanos stadium. Harlon said the worst part was having to “kick-out” angry students from the stands because they were throwing tortillas as part of a “tradition.”
“I have had a terrible time at Cal Poly,” Harlon said, “[Students] didn’t want to give up their tortillas, even though throwing tortillas is racist.”
Every year, against Spanos stadium policy, Cal Poly fans sneak tortillas in and throw them onto the field, hitting players, coaches and officials.
Tina Javid, a nutrition freshman, said she was shocked to see so many tortillas litter the field during the first Cal Poly soccer game she ever attended.
“It’s just disrespectful,” Javid said,
She said that she thinks any Cal Poly student willing to throw tortillas “deserves to be kicked out” due to the “history of [throwing tortillas] being racially inappropriate.”
For the past eight years, throwing tortillas has become second nature for Cal Poly students during the annual event. According to Don Oberhelman, Cal Poly’s Director of Athletics, it should not be claimed as a Cal Poly tradition.
UCSB students have been throwing tortillas during their home games since the early 1990s and even made national news in 1997 when a basketball game had to be stopped due to there being too many tortillas on the court.
The same thing almost happened twice this year in Spanos stadium when officials threatened Cal Poly with a forfeit if students continued throwing items onto the field.
“You can hurt someone, it’s disrespectful to a culture and it’s wasteful of food when we have scarce resources on our planet … Any one of these is a reason not to do it and we have three,” Oberhelman said.
While disappointed in the fans for upholding what they think is a Cal Poly tradition, Oberhelman said he hopes students will come up with a new tradition that can keep the fan attendance high.