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Sell us a candy bar if you really want our money

Sell us a candy bar if you really want our money

When I look back on the 2004 Class AA State boys’ basketball tournament in Missoula, one of the first things I remember is the way Butte High took the floor.

Great Falls Russell, which won the game, entered the arena in full warmup uniforms. They wore long-sleeved tops and pants as they ran onto the floor in an organized manner for pregame layups.

A few moments later, on the northwest corner of the court, Butte High’s team members slowly gathered. They were all wearing only their white uniform tops and shorts.

All the players stood there for a moment, arms hanging to the side like a gunslinger ready to duel, as they looked around the packed arena. Then, they walked onto the court in no particular order and started warming up.

It was one of the most Butte guy things I have ever seen.

Warmups? We don’t need no stinkin’ warmups. Let the pretty boys wear the warmups.

A few years later, a Butte High player excitedly told me about the new warmup suits the parents pitched in to buy the team. I told him the story about the 2004 moment, and told him to throw those silly warmups in the dumpster.

Never in the history of high school sports has there been a bigger waste of money than a warmup suit for basketball.

At least in the case of the 2007 Bulldogs, though, it was the parents who wasted their money.

The other day, I learned that a Montana boys’ basketball team started a gambling board to raise money so the team can buy some fancy new warmups for the postseason.

Just when we thought we were done with football fundraising scams after the Super Bowl, we are being sucked right back into them with college basketball.

Yes, the gambling board has surpassed Go Fund Me as the scam of choice.

Sure, there is nothing wrong with fundraising for certain causes, but these gambling boards are way over the top. They are also becoming an everyday occurrence.

Anybody who has a coworker or has been on Facebook knows exactly what I am talking about.

“You want to get on my board for my (insert son or daughter story here)?”

Then you give them $10 or $20 per square on their 100-square board. Half of the winnings go to the lucky winner. The other half goes to the “cause.”

That’s right, half.

The Gambino crime family would never think about taking that kind of a cut from a board, and they offer much better amenities.

While I am no lawyer, there is a pretty good chance that these boards are highly illegal, even though the state government is unlikely to go after dance moms on Facebook. More importantly, they are presumptuous, and they take advantage of people who are supposed to be your “friends.”

If a local tavern owner tried to take that big of a cut on its Super Bowl board, he would be run out of business. If not by the state, then by his customers.

Fundraisers can be a great thing. We can fund-raise to help Little League Baseball pay for poor children to play. We can fund-raise to help make sure Little Guy Football is free to all boys and girls.

We can fund-raise to help schools buy playground equipment and books.

We can fund-raise to help sick people pay their medical bills.

If you want your son or daughter to go be on the best traveling team or attend the best dance school, though, you are on your own. At least you should be.

Surprisingly, though, people keep falling for this scam, even though you would think the poor payout would drive them away.

A board like that is also one of the most lazy forms of fundraising. If you want to use gambling to raise money, you should have to give the gamblers a bang for their buck.

The Cystic Fibrosis Benefit March Madness Calcutta, which was started by a local group several years ago knows, does it right.

The Calcutta pays out 90 percent of the money taken in. The other 10 percent goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help find a cure for the terrible disease, not buy new dance shoes.

That has led to the group sending off some massive checks to the foundation each of its first five years. If it took half the money for the foundation right off the top, there would not have been enough support for a Year 2.

If you are taking that much money, most of us would much rather get our Super Bowl numbers or Final Four brackets in the back room of a run-down bar, where you are more likely to get a fair shake.

On Facebook or at work, however, we are shamed into paying for other people’s children, something so low my old one-eyed bookie never would have considered.

If you want to give your son or daughter an edge, there are honest ways to raise money for them.

One wrestling mom used run a hotdog stand in Uptown Butte on St. Patrick’s Day. She got a permit, worked hard and raised a good chunk of money to help pay her son’s expenses.

Some families run fireworks stands to raise money to pay for their children’s expenses or college funds.

Butte High football and Little Guy Football do a great job raising funds by selling peeler cards. Those cards for $10 or $15 offer people a chance to save money at local businesses.

You get back the money you spent in no time, some local stores get more business, and the league and team gets some much-needed money. It is a win-win-win.

The Butte High cross country team sells beef jerky. Sure, it is overpriced, but it at least you are getting something for your money.

Other groups sell candy bars, and that is a great, honest way to raise money, too. For $1 or $2 apiece, you can get a tasty candy bar, and the school gets money for supplies without taking advantage of Facebook friendship.

Boards that take half the money off the top do just that. Plus, when you “win,” how do you accept the money? The amount of implied pressure to donate the winnings to the “cause” is off the charts.

What kind of a monster takes the $500 in Super Bowl winnings from that cute little dancer or little slugger?

At least with a raffle ticket, there is no pressure to donate back your new 4-wheeler.

We get it. We all want what’s best for our children, but too many people do not want to spend their own money.

If you are going to bug your “friends” for money to help ease your burden, though, the least you can do is sell us a candy bar.

That way we will not feel like we are throwing our money into a dumpster along with those ugly warmup uniforms.

— Bill Foley, who invites you to join his Final Four board to help benefit his heat and water bills, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.



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