This past Saturday night, I listened in horror as the Swamp rained boos upon our beloved Gators through the entire night of football, including the two scoring drives in the 4th quarter. As dissatisfying as the Gators are to our appetite for success this year, this is an inexcusable practice for our fans. We’ve joined the ranks of bitter PRO fan bases like Philadelphia and New York, where boos are more common than cheers. These ‘fans’ wear their right to express negatively as a badge of dishonor. They are proud to let it ring in the ears of their coaches and players. Is that who we are now? Is that the Gator Nation?
I know the retort to this admonition is that Joe Gator Fan inherits a right to ‘boo and hiss’ along with the cost of a football ticket or hefty donation to UAA. Besides that, it’s his right as an American to exercise free speech. I can’t argue against that logic, but I can say that the boos are embarrassing and those that push out their boos with gusto are not true fans.
Florida Gator football is not just about Ws. It’s about pride in the institution. It’s about gathering with your fellow student, alum, family, pet, or mistress to watch your favorite team, whether you attended UF or just grew up loving the Gators because that’s who your favorite, drunk uncle pulls for on Saturday. If you want to boo, do it in your own house where the rest of the country doesn’t have to hear your spoiled, bandwagon-esque displeasure. Leave the Gator Hating to the Dawgs, Vols, and Noles. I’m ready to go 4-8 this year if it means people that bring this sentiment to the stands of Ben Hill stop coming to the games. Florida has always had a great tradition of attendance for football, even in the many lean years leading up to the 1990s. Someone will take your place in the stands and enjoy a chance to be a part of that great tradition, win or lose.