Florida Gators to discontinue ‘Gator Bait’ cheer despite no evidence of direct racial ties

By Adam Silverstein
June 18, 2020
Florida Gators to discontinue ‘Gator Bait’ cheer despite no evidence of direct racial ties
Football

Image Credit: GatorTurfStaff / Twitter

The Florida Gators on Thursday announced that the athletic program will no longer use the “Gator Bait” cheer at sporting events because of historic racist imagery associated with the phrase. University of Florida president Kent Fuchs announced this measure as part of numerous steps the school is taking to create positive change against racism.

“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” said Fuchs in a statement. “Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”

Though there are no direct racial ties to the creation or usage of Florida’s “Gator Bait” chant, there is significant historical context in which black children were depicted and possibly even used as bait to lure alligators around the turn of the 20th century.

Former First Team All-SEC safety Lawrence Wright takes credit for coining “Gator Bait” phrase and chant in 1995 — in the way the Florida athletic program used it. He also led a “Gator Bait” chant following the program’s 1996 national championship victory. Wright won a national championship and four SEC titles with the Gators; he is now in the UF Athletic Hall of Fame.

There is nothing in Fuchs’ statement outlining the future usage of the famous Gator Chomp gesture, though one would assume it will likely continue in some form and perhaps be utilized more with the “Jaws” theme that is often played at Gators sporting events.

UF is far from the only school to make changes to its campus or athletic programs as the issues of racism and police brutality are identified across the country. This comes as states and cities are tearing down monuments or statues honoring the Confederacy.

UNLV recently removed its “Hey Reb!” statue, Virginia adjusted its logos, Texas is being pressured to no longer use “The Eyes of Texas” as its alma mater, and Clemson and South Carolina are among schools who are considering changing names of their buildings and facilities.

Fuchs detailed a number of other steps UF is taking to combat racism on and off campus. Click here to read his entire statement.

Editor’s note: For greater context as to why Florida chose to discontinue the “Gator Bait” chant please read the three items linked in the above story.

23 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Total garbarge…PC run amok. Fire Fuchs!

    • Kai Nelson says:

      This country is toast! I will boycott college and pro sports until leaders grow some balls and stand up to this nonsense.

  2. Mark F. says:

    I have been chanting “Gator Bait” when the opposing team comes out since the late 1960’s, well before Lawrence Wright was even born. While a great player during his time in the Orange and Blue, not sure he deserves credit for a chant yelled for decades before he joined the Gator Nation.

  3. shippy says:

    I say stop going to the games and funding them and then all these guys want be able to have a free college ride since everyone its has to pay.

  4. Janet says:

    Insane!!!! I guess they should also ban all videos of Wilbur Marshall and the gator defense singing “who Dat”!!

  5. Mac Smith says:

    This has gone too far, remove funding over the excessive political correctness. Would not want to offend anyone by funding or supporting a racist school.

  6. Ron says:

    I have lived in Florida all but one of my 67 years. I came to Gainesville in 1973 to go to UF for college. I still live in Gainesville and had NO IDEA that the practice listed above even existed.

    However, I applaud President Fuchs for making this call. He knows, as do I, most fans will complain about the ‘PC Police’ and moan about doing something different (even as a former black player feels cheated).

    This call to me is not about the past, but about UF’s future. What does UF want to be and represent to the world. This actually is such a little change for us Gator fans to endure. By making this change now, nobody can or could accuse UF of not doing what it could to promote decency and equality for ALL people in the state of Florida.

    GO GATORS!!!

    • Jay says:

      Well said, true Gators are men and women of honor and dignity And determination – steeped in history with eyes firmly fixed on the future Of our school and country. GO GATORS!

  7. MICHAEL Woodall says:

    Elite Alumni run. Do not donate another dime to this ass clown until he is fired. This is total bullshit!!! I will contune to use the Gator Chomp and the gator bait!!!

  8. Razzlegator says:

    all you motherf—ers can’t think of another way to cheer our team on to victory? gonna quote our exalted deranged leader. SAD!!!

    • William Waddell says:

      Your retort and Verbage encompasses the ignorance laid before Our Nation to deal with uneducated and self-entitled people such as yourself.. Grow a Brain and use it for more than name calling you Punk!

    • Irony says:

      Yeah, stop calling people names, you punk!

  9. LeAnn Klinger says:

    Ludicrous! Are the Gators going to quit tackling because it might hurt someone’s feelings? I’ve had football season tickets for 40 years. I am strongly considering not renewing after this season. Fuchs and those supporting this decision are GATOR BAIT!!

  10. Gator97 says:

    What’s next? Is it bye bye time for Albert and Alberta? I never once thought about racism when I heard Gator bait. It is simply a cheer to let the Vols, Gamecocks, Tigers, and others know that we Gators are going to eat them up playing football. It seems if people look hard enough to find something, well they will. This is crazy.

  11. Yogi says:

    I’ve been a gator fan for over 30 some years I don’t know what the president of the college is thinking the fans probably not gonna stop doing it and I watch every game every year did the gators play I live in Montana now but I still support the gatorsSo there was no racism in that Chant But fuchs Had to be the first college president to start some shit he needs to be fired and run the fuck out of the state

  12. Yogi says:

    I’m a big gator fan have been for over 30+ years now I’m hoping to see the gators play this year because of this COVID-19 and now if they get to play they can’t cheer no more like they used to there is nothing Ever racist in it at all and Fuch should have not made that decision without talking to all the kids in the community and the state of Florida because you’re not he’s not stopping any type of racism at allSo yeah he should be fired and run out of Florida

  13. Chen Lee says:

    Time to send el Presidente PACKING!!!
    All good Gators need to start a partition to get rid of him… He was NEVER a Gator, and it shows!

    • Ron says:

      Pretty sure Fuchs wanted to get ahead of the oncoming mess. I don’t think he or Coach Mullen wanted to answer questions (from recruits or parents) why UF knew about this tragedy and did not ax the chant. Nobody at UF wanted to answer that. If you read his full statement of changes, it’s amazingly thorough and really, really good.

      Look, the band isn’t going to play it anymore. There will be some fans who will feel hurt and will be compelled to yell it anyway; Fuchs knows this. It’s like Mississippi State’s cowbells, as soon as someone says don’t do that, they are going to do it anyway because,… they just want to ring the d@mn things no matter what.

      Be that as it may, Fuchs has one job: protect UF, it’s past, present, and future students, and it’s reputation. I truly realize lot’s of folks are taking this tiny change VERY SERIOUSLY. But, at the end of the day, it’s still the right call,…even if some fans are mad and hate it. At least to me, it’s the ONLY call from what I have learned in the past few weeks.

      I just don’t want my school getting ANY attention for not doing the next right thing!! I would like this to be about MY feelings because I love cheering for the Gators. Except,…it just isn’t!!

  14. Shawn says:

    I say we boycott all games until He changes it back to letting us cheer! Like some of yall have said I’m going to stop funding or sending them money until he grows some balls!! This is ridiculous 😡😡😠😠😡 We all need to stand together and get our chant back !!

  15. Lulz says:

    LOL WTF? UF should have to release a statement about their abusive use of the Florida Alligator as a logo. Did the gators have any say in this? University Privilege! Gator Rights!

  16. Wendy Werb says:

    In the end, it’s an empty gesture that provides no real solution to any real problem.

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