Lawrence Wright disagrees with Fuchs’ decision to drop “Gator Bait” cheer

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Florida's Danny Wuerffel, left, and Lawrence Wright hug and share a laaught on Jan. 11, 1997 at the Gators National Championship Celebration at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [File]

President Kent Fuchs announced a decision that will not sit well with a lot of Gator fans Thursday and that includes the former player most often associated with the cheer of “Gator Bait.”

Lawrence Wright, who famously uttered the phrase, “If you ain’t a Gator, ya Gator bait, baby” after a 1995 win over Florida State at The Swamp, was livid after the announcement that UF will stop using the cheer.

“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,” Fuchs wrote in a UF statement titled “Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism. “Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.” 

Wright, who was planning to launch a line of bobbleheads, shirts and No. 4 jerseys with the phrase he is well known for, said he was most upset that there was no discussion about it.

“The Gator Nation is a culture, too,” said Wright, who is Black. “It’s not about what happened way back in the past. How about our culture?

“Me and the president need to sit down and talk about this.”

Wright did receive a call from a University Athletic Association official to inform him of the decision.

“I’m not going for it,” said Wright, who won the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s best defensive back in 1996. “I created something for us. It’s a college football thing. It’s not a racist thing, It’s about us, the Gator Nation. And I’m Black. 

“What about our history as the Gator Nation? We took a program from the top five to No. 1 in the country. I think I’ve done enough, put in the sweat and tears, to get to offer my opinion about something like this.”

Wright was a member of Florida’s first football national title team.

The cheer is used — often with the UF band offering the music to start it — at most UF sporting events. The cheer and the Gator band prompts go back many years before Wright came to Florida. In fact, “Gator Bait” magazine began in 1980.

“It’s not about us not getting along because of a cheer,” Wright said. “Keep the good stuff and abolish the bad things.”

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. I’m officially done with the University of Florida, and quite frankly, the world today. Are they cancelling Gator Bait Magazine? It’s still in publication, is it not? No, I’m done. No more Booster checks, no more going to games, I’m done. I said over 20 years ago, “the fun is going out of games, and it’s getting all too serious with peoples feelings getting hurt and people taking things too seriously.” Well, you’ve gone and done it for me. Goodbye, Gators. This Gator is gone. Peace.

  2. Too bad Dr. Fuchs has nothing better to do but start a controversy. Lawrence Wright is ok with it and I would imagine the entire team is ok with the cheer. No one ever thought of it as racist til the liberal in charge of the school came out with his statement. Lets all look real hard and try to find out what else is politically incorrect. I agree with Grump, the fun has gone out of the game. I will be there in September and if we have to look at the stupid “work em silly” sign maybe a new Two Bits will be born with the Gaiter Bait cheer. How is Fuc_s going to stop people from yelling “Gator Bait” when the opposing team comes Out? He is not. As far as the band goes, they are not near as loud as the Georgia band so stopping them is no big deal.

      • That’s priceless, 6! Love it!
        I’ll thank you now, sir!

        And liberals, if ”Gator Bait” is so offensive, ’cause of some evil fools from the past (to my knowledge it’s STILL NOT associated in print with U.F., it was some jerks in the past that have long been buried with dirt), well then, what evil or foolish things have you done (like WE’VE ALL DONE) that will get JUDGED in the PRESENT by TODAY’S LOONY LIB STANDARDS?!? Like, ”no more him or her,” and/or ”no more male & female bathrooms.”
        So…

  3. I understand where Fuchs is coming from but a dialog sure might have made this a little easier to swallow. Certainly with Mr. Wright and some history of the “Gator Bait” chant. I’m not done just yet and I will be there in the fall but it won’t be the quite the same without “Gator Bait!”.

    • Truly!

      ”See ya’ later, Gator!” Today in 2020, you’ve become too OFFENSIVE to some, who were NOT EVEN ALIVE when it was actually ”offensive.” Soon the entire ”English Language” will ”OFFENSIVE & BANNED.” So we all better start practicing our ”PIG LATIN.”

      P.S. -STOP BUILDING STATUES OF GATORS, THEY’RE NEXT ON THE ”TEAR DOWN LIST for loony liberals”

  4. How bout: “Gator Tail” or “Gator Nuggets with side of Fries” Or how bout “Gator Feces”.
    fe·ces: waste matter discharged from the bowels after food has been digested; excrement.
    This shouldn’t be that hard to correct 50% of an iconic chant. Thank you Mr. Wright! Go Gators

  5. […] The outrage over the chant is based on some obscure conspiracy theory that African-American children were allegedly fed to gators and that is where the term “gator bait” came from. However, Lawrence Wright, an African-American alumnus of the University of Florida who played for the team during their first national championship, decried the move and has demanded a meeting with University of Florida President Ken Fuchs according to Gator Sports. […]

  6. I agree with many of the things being done today, to move forward in a more unifying way for all. The University of Florida certainly has baggage from the civil rights era.

    Getting rid of the “Gator bait” cheer? This is ridiculous.