From the very inception of public sporting events there has been an uneasy relationship between the spectators and those in power who host and officiate the event.
In Byzantine times chariot racing factions called “demes” served as quasi-political party and a unruly mob that could exert their will onto the emperor during the races.
The Royal Rooters were both a blessing and a burden to the Red Sox ownership, drunkenly slurring through chants and storming the field at inopportune times.
This past weekend, Javelina fans continued this tradition of defiance, slinging tortillas from the stands after every Hoggie touchdown, much to the chagrin to those in the East side press box.
“Please stop throwing tortillas. You are making us look stupid”, PA announcer Glen Scholz chided.
But this only served to embolden to crowd who then proceeded to rain down boos and even more tortillas.
This controversy over tortillas is nothing new to A&M Kingsville and the tradition itself is not native to the campus.
My first encounter with people tossing tortilla frisbees came at the 2010 Alamo Bowl between Texas Tech and Michigan State.
Once the Red Raiders sealed the fourty-one to thirty-one victory, white flour discs filled the air.
A Tech alum sitting next to me explained that back in 1992, an unnamed ESPN commentator said that there was “nothing but Tech football and a tortilla factory in Lubbock” and from then on the school was known as “Tortilla Tech”.
That was only one of many theories as to the origin of the tortilla throw, and many more exist as to how TAMUK picked up the tradition in the 90s.
One prevailing theory is that a visiting team from the north called the Javelina football team “a bunch of Mexicans” and the student body began throwing tortillas in spite of them.
Though it’s probably just as likely that either fans picked it up through social osmosis from Texas Tech or they were just putting a South Texas spin on the ancient spectator practice of tossing objects from the stands.
In any case President Steven Tallant banned the practice in 2010, citing food waste, safety concerns, and potential cultural insensitivity, although there was no one inciting event for the ban.
That still didn’t stop rumors from floating around as to what exactly caused the ban, from Mexican activist groups accusing the practice of being racist to an elderly lady being hit in the eye from a frozen tortilla, but none of these were ever confirmed.
But as evident by last Saturday’s game, the fans continue to toss their tortillas and the more the University tries to act as the fun police and push back, the more stubborn the student body and fans become.
Perhaps it’s time for the higher-ups to concede defeat, much like a Byzantine emperor to the demes, and allow the tortilla throwing to continue on as is, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the game on the field.
Or perhaps they could even embrace the tradition by giving out thin, floppy, rubber or foam discs out to spectators.
Because after all is tossing a tortilla like a frisbee any more inherently silly than grown men in plastic pads wrestling for control of an oblong leather ball?
College football is a circus, it’s spectacle, let the fans have their fun.