For anyone who ever thought that an opinionated athlete should stick to sports, I present to you the Darby School Board.
That board is made up of a bunch of real rocket scientists, if you know what I mean.
These are the men and women who merely suspended a high school football coach for taking to Facebook to call for the lynching of Black Lives Matters protesters in Salt Lake City.
These are the men and women who, along with disgraced coach Jeff Snavely, have given the State of Montana yet another really, really ugly black eye.
By now you have surely heard of Snavely, the football coach who saw the BLM protests and wrote, “they should all be strung up and hang in the public like the old days. Lot less of that sh*t would go on.”
The coach made the post on May 31, and any respectable school board or school superintendent would have fired him on June 1.
Instead, the officials in the small Montana town in the Bitterroot Valley thought about it for a month before deciding to suspend Snavely for one year.
The board also added some stipulations to the suspension that appear to give the coach a road to redemption. The problem, however, is that the coach does not seem to understand what he did wrong.
When apologizing to the board, Snavely said, “I’m deeply regretful that I posted that. It could have been worded differently and none of this would have been an issue. That is my problem to bear.”
The coach thinks that if he would have worded his bigotry better everything would be fine, and the board apparently agrees.
Among the stipulations of Snavely’s suspension, the coach must attend and help organize at least four community conversations to improve the culture and climate in the community and Darby Public Schools.
What’s next? Will Darby introduce Dr. Jack Kevorkian as the CPR instructor?
Is Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias the Darby physical education teacher?
Will Biff Tannen be introduced to lead the Darby anti-bullying initiative?
Having a guy who is now nationally known for his bigotry and lynching glorification lead the community out of the 1950s is a worse idea than having Cheech and Chong run an assembly on substance abuse prevention.
We live in the land of second opportunity, and we all love a good comeback story. It really would be great to see the coach turn this debacle into a great one of those.
But if Snavely wants to redeem himself, then it should be up to him.
Darby should have fired the coach. There is simply no question about that.
Then, if the coach showed that he was truly regretful for his actions and he did enough to prove that he has grown and learned from the fiasco, then let him apply for the job next time it comes open.
Making him attend a few meetings is a bigger joke than celebrity rehab.
For anyone who ever thought that an opinionated athlete should stick to sports, I present to you Samuel Akem. He is a senior receiver on the University of Montana football team.
Akem, who hails from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is one of many athletes of color who are speaking out against racism. He has been vocal in his opposition to Snavely and the way the board slapped his wrist.
His words have been met with some “stick to sports” resistance, but Akem keeps on speaking his mind.
In staying on the message that we should not accept such lynching comments as if they were a minor slip of the tongue, Akem is showing that he is a true role model for the community, the youth and his teammates.
Akem is following in the footsteps of Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, who led the charge to get rid of the Confederate battle flag on state flag of Mississippi.
Because Hill would not “stick to sports,” the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that will take that hateful image off the state flag.
It is a major victory for those who were not cheering for the slaveowners in the Civil War.
Hill did not listen to the people who say we should not “wipe away our history” by removing the Confederate flag and tearing down Confederate monuments on state grounds.
He, too, probably finds it extremely funny that people who are so eager to offer history lessons are the ones who do not seem to grasp the understanding that the South actually lost that war.
Losers do not get monuments. You do not see any statues of Nazi leaders in Normandy, do you?
It was Hill, who was backed up by the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference, who finally was able accomplish something years of grassroots efforts and statewide activism in Mississippi could not.
Hopefully, Akem and the other athletes will be able to do the same in Montana and drive home the message that we will not tolerate such blatant racism and bigotry in our state.
Of course, these athletes should not do it alone. We must all make sure that this Darby scandal does not simply blow over. We have to make sure that the name Jeff Snavely is kept on the front burner until the coach can show that he really did walk the long road to redemption.
At the very least, we should keep shouting his name until the Darby School Board finally does the right thing.
Here are some phone numbers you can be dialing to do just that.
Darby superintendent Chris Toynbee number is (406) 821-3841. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the phone numbers and email addresses of the Darby School Board Members:
Ryan Smith: (406) 360-5957, email@example.com
Pete Ehmann: (406) 381-8481, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Harrell: (406) 239-0546, email@example.com
Rosemary Griffin: (406) 925-1866, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Winthers: (406) 360-8813, email@example.com
Give these men and women a call and send them an email. Let them know that we do not appreciate them making the entire state look like a bunch of buffoons in Klansman hoods.
Tell them that we can see through their weak suspension of Snavely. Tell them that this “punishment” is really them standing by the coach’s hateful comments.
Tell them to send the world a message that racism will not be tolerated in the Bitterroot Valley and in Montana by telling the coach to hit the bricks.
Tell them that they themselves should resign from the board if they cannot see that a man who would make such comments has no business coaching high school football.
While you are at it, make sure to also tell them to stick to rocket science.
— Bill Foley, who has several friends who are rocket scientists, writes a column that usually appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. He is writing more frequently during the coronavirus lockdown. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.