Updated: Jul 3
Take the poll. Help us do the right thing. "They" is really you, and us.
“Are you changing the name of ‘GatorBait’?”
I am asked that question daily. In fact, this week a former player and ex-media guy said: “Are they going to make you change the name of your magazine.”
To which I replied: “They? Who’s ‘they?,’“ although I knew who he meant.
“They” is really you, and us.
Let me be clear: If the name GatorBait is changed, it won’t be because we were ordered by somebody to do it. It’ll be because we mostly agree it was the “right thing to do.”
Understanding each other is an act of willful intent which requires desire and patience. Conflict resolution is an art form. We cannot achieve even a mere morsel of it without listening and learning. Somehow we must bridge the communication gap in our country, our county and our communities.
You in? We’re in! Starting with the conundrum of what to do about Gator Bait, which is the 40-year-old name we purchased with this publication one year ago this month and rebranded as GatorBait.
What to do? Start by taking starting this anonymous, independent survey. We promise to pay close attention. We’ll factor in your sentiments and make a determination of whether to keep the name of our magazine GatorBait, or change it to something else at a later date.
Gator Bait, the cheer, has been removed from the University of Florida Band and Cheerleaders playlist. UF president Kent Fuchs would like to distance Florida from presumed racist implications by those who point to an unproven and unvalidated historical reference about black children allegedly being used by white alligator hunters to lure prey.
You may not agree with him and feel that President Fuchs has jumped the gun without validation of facts, but given the so-called “optics” of the scenario and sensitivity of the issue in the current landscape, he should be given points for not ducking the issue.
Here at GatorBait, the magazine and website, we stand by our guidelines as laid down in this space last week. And we won’t duck it, either.
Rule #1 Do we know?
Rule #2 Do the best you can until you know better.
Rule #3 When you know better, do better. (Maya Angelou)
Rule #4 Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier: “If it offends people, change it.”
We also renew our commitment to “do the right thing.” After further study and more polling and placing the data in the hands of a “jury” made up of other media and experts that will include a group of African American athletes, we will “do the right thing.”
The popular chant, “Gator Bait!,” sanctioned or not, isn’t going away. It has been around since before the late Tom Petty was born and will continue to be screamed by fans as the opposing teams come out of their locker room –in fact, it may be louder than ever. If and when the first game is played at The Swamp, it may break the sound barrier when the visiting team runs on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field.
A sure way to publish a best-selling book is to ban it.