On October 16, Cal Poly hosted the famous blue green rivalry men’s soccer game against the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Year after year, this rivalry soccer game has become one of the highest attended NCAA soccer games in the nation. And this year was no exception.
Nearly 11,000 people attended making it the No. 24 most attended soccer game in NCAA history, but it’s what Cal Poly students call a ‘tradition’ that seems to bring in the crowd.
Against Spanos Stadium policy, Cal Poly fans sneak tortillas in to throw them onto the field while playing their rival, the Gauchos.
Cal Poly students, Jack Nelson, Shea Habaj, Ircimer Nuala and Killian James say they don’t mind what they think is a Cal Poly tradition.
“If people wanna have fun they should be allowed to have fun,” James said. Nuala went on to say that “it’s a great tradition,” and Habaj agreed saying, “it’s a free country!” in support.
Despite common belief, throwing tortillas isn’t Cal Poly’s tradition.
According to UCSB’s official website, it is a tradition their students started 24 years ago where fans would throw tortillas whenever their team would score first in a basketball or soccer game.
Within the last decade, Cal Poly students have adopted throwing tortillas as their own, but with the way Cal Poly students have adapted it, throwing food at an ongoing soccer game may have repercussions.
Cal Poly Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman said that instead of throwing the tortillas up in celebration like UCSB fans do, Cal Poly students are throwing tortillas directly at players and referees on the field, which is something the game officials note is a playing hazard.
“The game got close twice to becoming a forfeit for Cal Poly, and that would have been the fault of our student section” Oberhelman said.
Along with tortillas, fans were caught throwing reusable water bottles and carrots onto the field.
According to Oberhelman, the event security was able to keep the crowd at bay even though the amount of security guards was lower than prior years. Organizations involved in security were Miller Event Management, the San Luis Obispo Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, the University Police Department and the California Men’s Penal Colony.
According to event staff, many students were escorted out of the stadium and three fans were even arrested for disorderly conduct during the game.
Charles Harlon, a security guard for Miller Event Management, said he did not not enjoy working the event because of how the Cal Poly student section was behaving at the game.
”I have had a terrible time at Cal Poly, due to people being rude and they don’t want to give up their tortillas even though throwing tortillas is racist” Harlon said.
Cal Poly is a predominantly white university and since UCSB’s mascot is the Gauchos (a Spanish word for the equivalent of an Argentine cowboy), the fact that a popular Latin American food is being thrown during the game has given pause to some students for its racial implications.
Cal Poly Director of Athletics Don Olberman says that there are three main reasons the tortilla throwing has to stop: one, that it directly affects the outcome of the game; two, that it possibly offends students for its racial implications; and three, that it is a waste of food.
While Olberman is against tortillas being thrown during the game, he does have hope that things can change. “We need to find our own traditions here. We need to find our own way of making this match what it is, which is the greatest soccer rivalry in the United States,” Olberman said.