Sports | June 19, 2020 10:26 am

Florida Gators Banning “Gator Bait” Cheer, Citing Racism

The University of Florida said there is "horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase"

Florida Gators Banning “Gator Bait” Cheer Citing Racism
Florida Gators mascots at the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl. (Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty)
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Citing the “horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” the University of Florida has banned the school’s “gator bait” cheer at football games and other sporting events.

School president Kent Fuchs announced the ban in a letter to the university’s community that also outlined several other similar changes on campus.

Fuchs wrote that even though he knew of “no evidence of racism associated” with the chant at UF sporting events, the university and the Gator Band would discontinue the use of the cheer.

It is easy to see why the school made this decision upon viewing postcards showing Black people — usually children — being chased by Florida alligators.

According to UF history professor Paul Ortiz, he found accounts of white people claiming to use Black infants as bait while hunting in the Everglades while writing his dissertation on African-American history in Florida.

“Initially I thought it was an anomaly or something,” Ortiz told The Tampa Bay Times. “Then you see it over and over and over again.”

In addition to getting rid of the chant, Fuchs wrote he was “personally committed to removing any monuments or namings that UF can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders” in his letter to the university’s community. The school will also now require students, faculty and staff to be trained on “racism, inclusion and bias.”

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