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‘F*** the Gators’ chant an irresponsible move in a rush of excitement

‘F*** the Gators’ chant an irresponsible move in a rush of excitement
A crowd of more than 3,000 people including students and community members filled the stands during the FGCU pep rally. (EN Photo/ Andrew Friedgen)

We get our 15 minutes of fame, and we launch profanity across the national airwaves. We’re facing UF, so we essentially chanted “F.U.” An older man turned to his wife to ask what the students were chanting, and his face fell into shock when he realized it wasn’t “buck the Gators.”

The chant erupted during Monday’s pep rally in Alico Arena in celebration for the men’s basketball team facing University of Florida on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

It was aired on live TV, too. Numerous children occupied the stands as well as older fans. ESPN apologized for airing it shortly after. Our own Student Government also sent an apology email to UF.

As a non-sports fan, I’ve viewed the past few days with the fishbowl perspective, but I’m still split about the completely classy chant.

It was an irresponsible move for sure, but you’re also dealing with rowdy college students excited to finally see their school gain the attention they’ve wanted it to gain. And in the long history of college kids going crazy for things, we’re only a tiny drop in the bucket. But that’s not an excuse, either – we’re all adults.

It’s always a matter of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  We shouldn’t look at someone differently or make moral judgments about someone because of their choice of words, but we still do it, and that’s at the crux of this issue. People are going to make judgments of our student body and school for this chant, and if you look at online blogs and social media, some of these judgments are already viciously critical.

The floodgates opened up for FGCU, and the media coverage has given us a national spotlight. Cameras flooded Alico Arena, aimed at the rowdiest and proudest of FGCU fueled on the rush of exhilaration. It was a recipe for chaos.

This would be a little different if the spotlight wasn’t on us, but this was our chance for a first impression, and we made a bad one.

Ultimately, it comes down to the social mechanics of profanity. In the past I’ve written about how words and ideas by themselves are harmless, and the same concept applies to “bad” words. We find these words offensive because we apply cultural meaning to them.

So from a personal standpoint, I don’t think the chant was necessarily wrong, but I’m just one person and can recognize that the chant has broader implications. Bottom line is that we did some damage to our new national attention when we were barely off the starting line, and that was just reckless.

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