As one must do periodically, I am taking the time this week to revisit the primary reasons that I hate the Florida Gators. So far, I've covered the fact that gators are simply loathsome and that orange is the ugliest color known to man. Noted Dawg Sports Poet Laureate Cherokee's Grip is in the middle of her own Hate Week montage, also. And, you know, those things are all well and good, but today I'm going to discuss one of those idiosyncrasies of the Sunshine State Saurians that really helps to send my Gator animosity over the line from "deep enmity" into "full-blown, raw hatred."
Gator Hater Reason #3: The Gator Chomp
To be certain, the University of Florida is not the only school whose fans utilize a hand signal/body movement during the course of athletic events. Florida State has the Tomahawk Chop, Miami has "Da U," NC State has the "Wolfpack" hand sign (which is basically the old NWO hand sign from WCW rasslin'), and Oregon fans like showing people their "O" hands. And that's not even counting the schools who use their bodies in a Village-People-Doing-YMCA way like Oklahoma, Okie State, Kansas, and Ohio State.
Heck, the state of Texas has a hand signal for practically every school. ("Gig 'em"/thumbs up for the Aggies, "Hook 'em Horns" for Texas, "Guns up" for Texas Tech, a big claw-hand for Baylor, and the
shocker Cougar Paw for Houston, which is also utilized by Arizona State. And let's not forget Rice, whose hand signal is to stand absolutely still, looking forlorn, just like a grain of Rice.) Even Vanderbilt has a Johnny-come-lately "If you hold up your first three fingers in a cock-eyed way it kind of looks like the letters VU" signal.
Of all the hand signals in the college football world, however, the "Gator Chomp" is the only one that actively encourages its practitioners to mock their opponents during its exercise. The very practice of the "chomp" by a Gator fan in the proximity of an opposing fan is inflammatory.
Most hand signs are meant to be a way to nonverbally cheer on your team. The Gator Chomp, however, is properly performed by extending both arms to their full length, elbows unbent, with one arm high and one arm low, and bringing those two arms together aggressively and enthusiastically. What sort of encouragement is such an action meant to imbue upon their team? I can think of none.
No, the Gator Chomp is designed to be performed towards opponents. It is designed to be a form of gloating following a win, an expression of unsportsmanlike superiority over a vanquished foe, and a sign by which one can continually remind one's opposing fans that, "Hey, yeah, baby... we're better than you! (But please ignore our almost-losing record.)" Someone who proudly performs the Gator Chomp is announcing to the world, "Hey! I'm obnoxious, arrogant, and proud of it! Come at me, bro!!"
Every time I see a Gator fan excitedly flapping his arms in my direction, the latent rage in my heart towards the Saurians is nudged just a bit higher... the flames stoked just a little bit more, causing the hate to build a little each time. Now multiply that by 40,000, and multiply that by all the years I've been seated in the stadium during a butt-whipping, watching happy flappers going to town all about my person. And then add in the thousands of flapping arms one witnesses walking back to one's car, then driving on the interstate as hastily as possible back to Georgia. Now can you see why my hatred can be described as being analogous to the fire of a thousand suns being fueled by the fire of an additional thousand suns?
And what is the conclusive evidence, the proverbial whipped topping with a cherry, so to speak, that proves my point beyond a shadow of a doubt? That's easy: Whenever another team is beating the Gators (preferably convincingly), opposing fans and players turn the chomp around and do it right back to the Gators.
Watch this. It will make you feel happy inside.
There's no way that we can prevent Florida fans from doing the chomp this Saturday... at least, before the game. What we can do, however, is cheer as loud as we can for our Dawgs and help propel them to a 21-0 first quarter lead. If that happens, I can assure you that you won't have to see another Gator Chomp all day long (because, like the bandwagon fans they are, the Gators will all go home before halftime).