Texas Tech Has a Tradition of Throwing Tortillas During Football Games, but Why?

Texas Tech has long thrown tortillas during football games, but many people want to know how that tradition started and why it has continued.


Nov. 3 2023, Published 12:29 p.m. ET

Fans throwing tortillas during a Texas Tech game.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Texas Tech fans have been throwing tortillas during the kickoff at football games for decades, but the exact origins of the tradition remain unclear.
  • One story suggests that fans started throwing tortillas after they were no longer given the lids to their beverages.
  • Another story suggests that fans started throwing tortillas in response to an ESPN commentator.
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In the wide world of sports, there are many strange traditions. Sometimes, those traditions involve bringing something with you to a game, and then throwing it out onto the field. Some teams do rats, and in some sports, the currency of the realm is stuffed animals.

For fans at Texas Tech, though, it's tortillas that are the main throwable objects during kickoff. As outside spectators watch a Texas Tech game, though, many of them naturally wonder why fans throw tortillas onto the field so regularly.

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Why does Texas Tech throw tortillas during the kickoff at football games?

The tradition of Texas Tech fans throwing tortillas during the kickoff at football games started sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but no one actually knows how it started for sure. There are several stories around the tradition, and each of them could be the one that is actually the reason it first caught on.

The driest version of the story suggests that fans started throwing the lids from their drinks during games in 1989.

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Shortly thereafter, the concession stands got wise and stopped providing drinks with lids. As a result, fans started tossing tortillas on the field. That's pretty cut and dried, but that's one version of the story.

The other is a little juicier, and suggests that the tradition is a result of Texas Tech's rivalry with Texas A&M. The legend goes that the tradition was started in response to an ESPN announcer who claimed that the town of Lubbock, Texas, was almost empty.

Lubbock, which is home to Texas Tech, apparently has "nothing but Texas Tech football and a tortilla factory," according to this announcer, who was talking before a game between Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

After that comment, the fans at Texas Tech apparently took things a little hard, and brought tortillas to the next football game to toss them at kickoff. Ever since then, the tradition has lived on.

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The tortillas throwing tradition is a little controversial.

Although many outsiders may think the notion of throwing tortillas on the field is charming, Texas Tech has a fairly complicated relationship with this particular tradition. The NCAA also frowns upon the tradition, and many have wondered whether a ban should be instituted that keeps fans from disrupting games by throwing the tortillas onto the field.

Although it seems like no one has been seriously injured by a tortilla, games have had to be stopped at various times throughout the history of the tradition because there were tortillas in the playing space that could have been a danger to athletes. It's understandable to find the trend annoying, but of course, many strange traditions can also be fairly annoying. That's how sports always works.

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