Butte High football is a really big deal in the Mining City.
When the Bulldogs are winning, a seat at Naranche Stadium can be very hard to come by. Even when the Bulldogs have a losing record, fans by the thousands want to watch the Bulldogs play.
So, how is it going to work when the Bulldogs play home games during a pandemic and a ton of fans want to watch them play live?
That is the No. 1 question after the Montana High School Association announced that prep sports will be played as scheduled this fall. Officials in each county will be able to determine how many fans can attend each sporting event.
Butte-Silver Bow allowed 500 people to attend Butte High’s graduation in June. With the virus spiking in Montana, it is hard to envision health officials in Butte allowing more than that.
Even if they allowed 1,000 fans into the stadium, there is no way to fairly pick which Bulldog fans are allowed into the stadium and which ones are told to hit the bricks.
It would not even be fair to only allow only parents into the game because so many Bulldog fans have followed the team for so many years. Even if they do not know the names on the roster, Butte High football truly matters to those fans.
How would you like to be one of the security guards in charge of keeping the crowd out of Naranche during a football game? This is, after all, a high school stadium that saw people lined up at the crack of dawn to get seats for playoff games.
Federal stormtroopers will have to be brought in to disperse the crowd trying to peek through the fences in the end zones.
Not only do all those Bulldog fans want to watch the Bulldogs play, they also want to give them that great homefield advantage they have grown accustom to.
The solution to this upcoming, however, is actually simple. We should allow just one fan at Butte High football games.
Yes, just one.
The rest of the Butte High fans could then listen to Paul Panisko, who is at least a tie for the best high school play-by-play announcer in the country, call the game on KBOW. Or, they could watch the streaming service, which includes Panisko’s call.
The rooting would then be left to just one fan, and that fan should be none other than Scott Cook.
Scott’s oldest son, Dallas, led the Bulldogs to the state title in 2012. His middle son, Dylan, is a starting offensive lineman for the Montana Grizzlies. His youngest son, Devon, is working hard to be a quarterback for the Bulldogs, too.
So, Scott clearly has earned his spot at the 50-yard line.
Plus, Scott is big and loud, and he knows a lot about football. More importantly, he knows how to be a football fan.
Whether you are talking high school, college or pro, no one is better at getting under the opposing skin. Scott is the Scout Allen of fans.
It is common knowledge that if Mother Teresa lined up against the trash-talking Allen for one game, she would take a swing at him by the end of the second quarter.
Sure, not everyone would want to sit by Scott for a full game, but, like with Scout, we all certainly want him on our side.
When that pretend Montana Class AA website accused Butte High fans of spitting on and throwing batteries at players last season, police started paying more attention to the Bulldog fans behind the visiting teams at Naranche.
During one playoff game, a police officer watching the home crowd told me, “Scott Cook is a genius.”
“Really, how’s that?” I asked.
“He knows where the line is,” the cop said. “He knows how to go right up to that line, and he knows how not to cross it.”
That really is a thing of beauty to be able to perfectly walk that tightrope in the heat of a playoff football game. That makes the opposing teams hate Scott. Knowing that there is nothing they can do about it makes them hate him even more.
Naranche Stadium would still be a great home-field advantage for the Bulldogs with just Scott in the crowd. In a way, it might even be better because the opposing players and coaches will hear every word he has to say.
Every. Single. Word.
The biggest problem with fans at Naranche last year did not occur at a varsity game. Rather, it came when Butte Central’s junior varsity team played Butte High’s freshman on a Monday night.
Only a couple of Bulldog fans were a problem, but it was a small crowd, so every negative word was able to strike a chord. At least one fan got booted, and some hard feelings are still felt all these months later.
Those problem fans at that game, however, do not even hold a candle to Scott. Not even close.
He could sit in a seat that is surrounded by plexiglass so he cannot spit on or throw batteries at opposing players. That would have the added bonus of keeping him safe from contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Then he could cheer and heckle the Bulldogs onto victory on Friday nights.
This is how all sports that are being played without fans should operate. They should quit playing that silly fake crowd noise — which claps without sarcasm when a home team gets the first out of an inning after seven runs have already scored — and allow one fan to cheer for the home team.
Just think how great that would be during a baseball game if one obnoxious fan was sitting behind home plate, berating the opposition.
He or she could heckle the road team all game because playing road games should be something that is hard. If the home team is stinking up the joint, the fan could give them the booing they deserve.
(Booing only goes for professional sports, of course.)
Think Randy Quaid from Major League II.
That would also be a great model for college and pro football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and so much more.
It would be absolutely perfect for the acoustical marvel that is Naranche Stadium.
We cannot trust that it will be safe to pack the place to play games this fall. But we can trust Butte High would still have a strong home-field advantage with Scott Cook in the stands.
The rest of Bulldog Nation could then turn to the radio and video stream feeling rest assured that their boys would be in the right hands.
And the stormtroopers could stay home.
— Bill Foley, who patterned his life after Randy Quaid from Major League II, writes a column that usually appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. He is writing more frequently during the coronavirus lockdown. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 1 comment