Coach Jim McElwain has been under fire since the beginning of this year’s football season. A 3-3 record for the Gators so far this year, including consecutive home game losses, hasn’t caused the public to look upon McElwain any more favorably. In fact, according to McElwain, he, his family and several Gator football players have been receiving death threats in response to the team’s poor performance lately.
Last Wednesday, McElwain revealed to the public the news about the death threats. When asked about his reaction to the threats, he simply said that they are “part of the business.” Although McElwain appeared to just brush off the death threats as if they were nothing more than an expected inconvenience, we can’t help but be bothered and disturbed by them.
We get it, football is important to a lot of people and it’s something just about any fan can get pretty passionate about. We fully expect yelling in the stadium and heckling from the opposing team at rival games. But death threats? That seems a little bit extreme — at least to us, anyway.
At best, the Florida Gators are an average football team. We aren’t awful, and we aren’t the laughing stock of the SEC, but we also aren’t the greatest college football team to come out of the Southeast. And that’s OK. Most of us didn’t come to this school because of its stellar football record, and we are certain that no Gator grads are going to find it more challenging to get a job with “University of Florida” on their resume just because the school’s football team had a couple of bad seasons.
So why are fans so upset? Really, we’d just like to know.
We can’t speak for everyone, but most of us would have supported our school’s team regardless of their performance on the field. It’s just what you do. You wear the colors, you yell the chants and when it comes down to it, you support your team because they are just that — your team.
What’s more is that when Gator fans act this way, whether they are alumni, current students or just general Gator fans, the whole school and its fanbase looks bad. Taking into account that UF is a big, southern university, it can be easy to feel like our football team defines our school as a whole. But, dear reader, we have news for you: it doesn’t. What defines our university and our fanbase is our character. Sending death threats to our football coach, his family and our players? That doesn’t exactly speak well for our character.
As current students, alumni and Gator fans, we have a lot to be proud of. Besides the fact that UF has been ranked as a top 10 public university, our other sports teams haven’t been doing too poorly lately. Our baseball team won the national championship last year, our women’s gymnastic team is ranked third in the nation and our women’s volleyball team continues to rank among the highest in the country. Instead of sending death threats to our football team, why don’t we take the time to celebrate these far less publicized wins for our school?
In other sports, we don’t see the coaches getting death threats, we don’t see the players’ lives endangered and we don’t see an absurd amount of aggression if the team has a bad season. The presence of death threats is not something anyone should be faced with — especially not for something as meaningless as a sports game. Please, Gator fans, reevaluate the severity of what you’re doing, and consider the way your actions are impacting McElwain, his family, our team and our fanbase.