Just when it seemed like this high school sports year could not have reached a lower point in cowardice, the 2017-18 season said, “Hold my beer.”
One night last week, someone (or, more likely some group) drove up to a local high school coach’s home, fired a rock through his window and screeched away into the night.
It took a matter of some very good luck for the rock and shattered glass to not hit the coach’s pregnant girlfriend.
At first thought, you’d probably think it was some kids pulling off the vandalistic prank. It was probably some teenagers mad at the coach for one of 3 million reasons.
These days, though, that is not necessarily a safe assumption.
Remember, this school year began with parents (we assume) setting up fake Facebook accounts to take shots at Butte High’s volleyball and football coaches.
There is, I suppose, a chance that those were just passionate Bulldog fans who were making such deep, mean-spirited cuts on the coaches, but that is unlikely. Fans without sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces or nephews on the team usually won’t go through such lengths to call out a coach.
When we look back at the 2017-18 school year, we will have a bunch of inspirational moments to remember. There were some big wins, gut-wrenching losses and some real reasons for hope as we look toward 2018-19.
Unfortunately, we will also look at 2017-18 as the Year of the Coward.
Really, there is no other way you can describe someone who would throw a rock through the window of a house of an expecting mother. Even if the rock thrower would have stood his or her ground after shattering the silence, there is still no other label for such an act.
In that coward’s defense, however, the person throwing the rock at least took the risk that he or she could be identified by a security camera. (And hopefully the wonder of whether or not the coach has one of those video doorbells keeps the rock thrower up at night.)
The fake Facebook crusaders and the anonymous letter writers never take that chance. They hide behind their keyboard or pen while pretending to have a backbone.
As fate would have it, the rock throw at the window came a day after the same coach was on the receiving end of one of those atrocious pieces of mail.
Every coach and every sportswriter has received them. I could paper the walls of Butte High with all the unsigned letters I’ve received in 20 years writing about sports, mostly in the Mining City.
All of the letters have one thing in common: They really showed me. At least, they think they really showed me.
I have so many questions about the anonymous letter writer, too.
I wonder if he or she is smiling, maybe even giggling along with each hateful word. I wonder how many pieces of paper are crumpled up and thrown in the trash before the masterpiece is perfected.
I envision several pages on the floor because the letter writer’s jump shot isn’t any better than his or her bench-riding child.
After skipping the part where you are supposed to sign your name, the writer must fold up the paper and put it in an envelope.
First, I bet, the writer holds the unfolded letter up triumphantly with two hands.
I wonder if the anonymous writers ever waste an envelope by writing their return address on it out of habit. I wonder if they worry that they did that after they send the letter.
After addressing and licking the envelope to seal the hate, a real sense of self-satisfaction must really set in.
“Boy, I really showed that idiot.”
Then, the writer must sit back in self-congratulation. Maybe he or she will even give a little Derek Jeter fist pump to celebrate.
This isn’t the sort of letter than can be stamped and put in the mailbox to be picked up the next day, either. No, this letter must be taken to the Post Office immediately, and the writer probably cackles on the drive home.
“Boy, I really showed that idiot.”
If only letter writers saw the joy that their hateful rambling puts on my face. When you write an opinion column, nothing is better than striking a nerve so deep that it sends a reader to his study to pen a letter.
You know you are reading the words of someone who is going to read every one of your columns.
If someone sends me an email telling me how I am wrong, I will give their opinion some thought.
If someone calls or talks to me in person about why I am wrong, I gladly will talk about it. Sometimes, I even change my opinion.
If a letter isn’t signed, then I use it merely for entertainment purposes. I’ll show it to all of my friends, and we usually all get a good laugh out of it.
We sit around and take some guesses as to who the writer might be. Often times, I think we’re right.
An opinion without a signature really isn’t an opinion at all.
Plus, it is just so hard to understand how someone can want to voice an anonymous opinion in the first place. When you write something clever or make a good point, why wouldn’t you want the world to know that it came from you?
Likewise, this rock thrower should reveal himself or herself after making such an impressive throw.
Sure, we have to wonder what the purpose was, other than to make the coach pay for a new window.
Was the thrower trying to scare the coach into quitting his job? That isn’t going to work.
Was it a message intended to make the coach see the error of his ways and fix all his flaws before the next season? That, too, seems futile.
Was breaking his window really worth the risk of being identified and arrested?
Regardless, whoever threw the rock has some physical ability.
The American Legion baseball program can always use some more pitching, and this thrower clearly has a nice combination of control and velocity. The rock was about the size of a baseball, and the window was about the size of a strike zone.
This rock thrower is wasting a real talent.
Before the thrower comes forward to join the team, however, it should be pointed out that there is one major difference when pitching in Legion ball and throwing rocks through windows.
In baseball, no one will hold your beer.
— Bill Foley, who accepts his hate mail at 660 Dewey Blvd., Butte, MT, 59701, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74