Insanity! It’s the only way to describe the local newspaper in town, The Montana Standard, with its attempt to pick Butte’s Greatest Athlete.

It is a flat out stupid idea. As the chairman of the Butte Sports Hall of Fame for 26 years I know how difficult it is just to pick new candidates into the local shrine every two years.

The process is not easy. It takes an enormous amount of research to develop “true” numbers and reliable stats on any one athlete. In more than one case, I received information on a candidate that simply was not accurate. Many former athletes tend to get better as time goes on. The numbers they produced though are always the same even if they might want you to believe otherwise.

What makes the Hall of Fame process so hard is there have been so many incredible athletes that have performed here in town.

When the Hall of Fame committee first met for an election in 1987, it was almost impossible to nail down the first induction group. The biggest issue was this athlete did more than that athlete. A number of committee members got rather vocal especially when it came to a relative or close friend. In every case, the relative or close friend was always the better athlete regardless of what the actual statistics indicated. So narrowing the field down to the thirteen individuals honored was a very difficult process.

Over two decades later, it is still a stressful process that requires lots of homework and plenty of debate before a select few get the call to enter the Butte Sports Hall of Fame. It does not matter who our committee inducts because someone will always be mad at us stating their relative or friend should be in there as well.

There are a lot more questions about this attempt by The Montana Standard to select the greatest athlete than there are answers.

For instance, who makes the final selection? The Montana Standard sports writer Alan Dale is not qualified to make a final decision. He has been in this community less than a year and has little to no knowledge about local sports and its history. There is no other reporter who covers the local sports beat on a regular basis at the newspaper.

Frankly, there is no one, including me, who can select one athlete as the greatest ever in Butte. I have spent countless hours doing research on Butte athletics and know one thing that there were many greatest athletes here not just one.

Some of my questions are: How do you pick the top athlete? What is the criteria used? How do you judge a top basketball player from a football star? Wait a minute! Why can’t the best athlete be a handball player, a wrestler, a soccer player, a boxer, a swimmer, a rodeo performer? Do women have a chance to be the best athlete of all time? They should because there have been some great female athletes. How do you compare a female athlete with male athlete. Does an athlete have to participate in more than one sport or can they be dominant in one event? See there are questions after questions and no real answers.

It all leads me to one final conclusion. It seems like this is an attempt by The Montana Standard to sell more papers not provide solid sports coverage of local events. The coverage on local sports in the local newspaper has dwindled a lot in the past year. There were many cases this past year where box scores of local high school basketball games played here in Butte were not complete. I have gone back and looked at every basketball game played at Butte High and Butte Central. It took seven years of research. I can say without question the coverage this past season in the local paper was some of the worst I have ever seen. Thank goodness, was available. The local sports-based site provides everything a fan is looking for including box scores.

Last winter, the local newspaper attempted to pick the best boys’ city championship game of all time. I pointed out here at that it is impossible to pick the best game ever. The reason is both Butte High and Butte Central followers are so passionate about their schools that the best games are only ones in which their school wins.

The same thing applies to selecting a greatest athlete of all time in Butte. If you pick a Bulldog athlete the Maroon folks will be screaming. If you select a Maroon student then Bulldog fans will shout that it was a mistake.

The bottom line is you can’t select a greatest athlete of all time in Butte. It is impossible. There have been so many great ones to even remotely break it down is silly. The attempt is quite simply nonsense.