Consider this a public service announcement for all of Alabama Gumpdom heading north for the big game.
If y’all are going to go Full Karate Gump on Monday for Alabama’s national championship title bout against Georgia, and by “Full Karate Gump” we mean “Alabama fans wearing karate gi to the game,” then just remember to layer up for the tailgates and security lines at Lucas Oil Stadium. The high temperature in Indianapolis for Monday, according to the trusty weather apps, is 23 degrees Fahrenheit.
The low is 11, which is about 20 degrees colder than tree-stand chilly, and 10 degrees below refrigerator whiskey warm. Two teams from the Southeastern Conference playing for the natty in the frozen tundras of Indiana makes about as much sense as serving vegan sausage in Conecuh County, Alabama, but that’s college football these days. Maybe one day they’ll figure this playoff thing out.
Until then, dress like you’re preparing to watch a football game on the dark side of the moon.
Naturally, at this point, some readers might be wondering what this new Alabama tradition we’re calling Gump Karate is all about, and why, with a 7 pm kickoff on Monday, there is new worry that young Alabama fans dressed in Karate gi might turn into ice cubes before the game even begins. Like most healthy things, it all started on the internet during another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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In short, Gump Karate is the collective use of a karate emoji being used by Alabama fans on social media to signify their support for the Crimson Tide and revel in this season’s run to the national championship game by an Alabama team that has embraced an underdog’s mentality . A 22-year-old Alabama grad living in Atlanta started the social-media trend on Tuesday. Adam Weilwho is originally from Birmingham, messaged his friend Jayde Saylor and said, “Do you want to help me start a movement?”
Yes, she said, and so they set about discussing how to ignite a modern-day revolution. They had to figure out which emoji would be best, in other words.
It was down to the ninja emoji and karate emoji.
“Jayde said she liked the karate one better,” said Weil, whose Twitter profile now reads, “Noted Assembler of the Gumps,” and “less hate, more love, more [karate emoji],
Within 24 hours, all of Alabama Gumpdom was marking their Twitter handles with karate emojis.
“If you have [karate emoji] after your Twitter name it means you’re verified on Gump Twitter,” Weil tweeted.
It went viral, of course, because it’s the perfect use of social media to explain an idea and bring people together. Weil is an Alabama PR major, which explains his brilliance. Plus, his mom, Allison Berman Weil, was a cheerleader at Alabama.
“Everyone has just been so welcoming and so genuinely caring about the same thing,” Weil said, “and no matter what background you come from. I love sports because it brings people together. I love the unity that this brings.
“No matter what your background or beliefs are, the community aspect of feeling a part of something bigger with people is the coolest thing to me. We all live our separate lives, but it’s like we know each other even though we really don’t.”
Beautiful. Perfect. First ballot Gump Hall of Fame.
On Twitter, a blue check by an account’s name signifies, according to Twitter, that “an account of public interest is authentic.” A karate emoji now means you’re an Alabama fan. And just like that a new Alabama tradition was born.
Gump Karate is the celebration by Alabama fans of Alabama football players posing like Karate Kids after touchdowns this season. Receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie were first to strike the poses and from there the “Crimson Crane” became synonymous with Alabama football. Before long, everyone was doing it. Now, suddenly, it’s a part of the Crimson culture like houndstooth and Yellow Hammers.
When Alabama football’s Twitter account added a karate emoji it was official. Athletics director Greg Byrne added the emoji, too. Most importantly, Alabama mascot Big Al went full Karate Gump for the national championship game. Now we’re just waiting for a poster of Bear Bryant in a karate gi to find its way onto ESPN College GameDay.
“To see Alabama doing something with my name in it is the coolest thing for me,” Weil said. “I’ve been on cloud nine.”
How does Sensei Weil of Gump Karate think Alabama will do in the game?
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“I’m feeling confident after the way we looked the last time we played them,” he said. “It’s hard to see them beating us after that. I think if they had a better quarterback, then we could be a little screwed, but I’m pretty confident in Nick Saban getting everyone up for this game. They know their underdog mentality.”
Someone put this kid on ESPN.
It’s rare for Alabama to be an underdog in any game, but Alabama wasn’t favored to win the SEC championship game against Georgia and isn’t favored in the national championship either.
Despite blowing out Georgia 41-24 a month ago, Alabama is a three-point underdog by the sports books in Las Vegas.
“Being an underdog is being an underdog,” Nick Saban said earlier this week.
And so the Karate Kids of Alabama are returning to the mat for another shot at an upset. Gump Karate will be there, too. Just remember to stuff a scarf and a coat into the luggage next to the fighting attire and iPhone chargers.
Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr, His new book, “We Want Bama: A season of hope and the making of Nick Saban’s ‘ultimate team’,” is available wherever books are sold,