The Punt, Pass & Kick competition will not be held in the Mining City or around the state this year.
That announcement was made today by Don Davis, the long-time coordinator of the competition in Butte and western Montana. Davis said the reason there will be no competition is the NFL withdrew its sponsorship of the program. The NFL was the major sponsor for PPK since 1995.
Davis said the NFL notified PPK state chairs in April that it will no longer support the free, non-contact competition that dates back to 1961 when event highlights were shown on CBS as part of its NFL coverage. Instead, the NFL will send resources from the program to other youth football priorities.
Attempts to access the PPK former website (nflppk.com) are redirected to the NFL’s flag football program. There are currently no flag football leagues in Butte associated with the NFL.
As part of its sponsorship, the NFL provided not only the supplies and structure for the program, but the path for advancement for all participants to sectional, regional (NFL team level) and ultimately the national championship.
Davis said he would like to see the PPK program conducted again if another national or statewide sponsor comes forth. Without such a sponsor, it doesn’t make sense to run the competition, Davis said, because one of the major draws to contestants is the chance to advance to Missoula and Seattle.
“That was the allure of the program,” Davis said. “They wanted to go Missoula. They really wanted to go to Seattle. And we sent a lot of kids to Seattle.”
Davis pointed out that three former competitors from Butte — Ryan Michelson, Casey Dennehy and Natalee Faupel — still hold state PPK records in their age group. Mickelson, Dennehy, Brenna Manion and Matt Berg advanced to win team championships in Seattle.
Butte athletes captured the Montana Jaycee’s Traveling Trophy, awarded to the local team that had the highest average statewide placement in PPK, for eight of the 25 years the trophy was awarded. Missoula was second with three.
“It was nice to see the Butte kids move on to the next level,” Davis said.
The annual event routinely drew more than 100 young athletes from the area to compete, rain or shine.
“Even with the bad weather last year, we had more than 100,” Davis said. “It was a good program. The kids really loved it.”
After competing in the local event as a young boy and coordinated it for three decades, Davis said he would like to thank the Kiwanis Club of Butte for conducting the Butte PPK program for the past 13 years.
He also expressed thanks to Montana Tech’s football program for providing the on-field manpower for the last 25 years and Butte School District No. 1 for providing the stadium and other facilities for past 31 years.
Finally, Davis said he would like to donate some of the footballs, tees and other PPK-related equipment that has accumulated in his garage for the past 31 years. If a group or school has a need for this type of equipment, contact Davis at 494-2585 or 490-2570.