Tackling the bully issue with basketball

At the beginning of the school year, I witnessed a parent complain to an elementary school principal that her son was being bullied on the bus home from school.

The principal said it was a tough issue to fix because the Butte school district couldn’t afford to hire monitors for every bus to help protect the kids being bullied.

I fought off the urge to mention that the district just paid nearly $1 million for a new parking lot at Butte High School.

Not a parking garage. Not a multi-level parking facility. It was nearly $1 million to repave the parking lot and paint it in a way that appears to have actually taken away parking sports.

My therapist told me I have to let that issue go and move on with life, but it is tough.

Maybe spending nearly $1 million to do a job that a couple of guys with a truckload of blacktop and a bucket of yellow paint could have done really was the way to go.

Plus, complaining after the fact doesn’t seem like it will do any good.

The lack of money for the bus monitors, though, seems like something we can and should fix. Luckily, I come to the table today with an idea to raise some funds for the district.

That plan involves basketball.

On Saturday, Butte High’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams took the bus to Belgrade to play non-conference games against the Panthers.

Later this season, the same teams will take the bus to Dillon to play the Beavers.

Meanwhile, the team everybody in town wants to see the Bulldogs play is only a couple of blocks down the street at the Maroon Activities Center.

The Bulldogs will play Butte Central on Jan. 16 at the Butte Civic Center. It will be the only time this season that the Bulldogs and Maroons meet on the court.

The teams played twice per season through 2006. That was the year that an ugly feud nearly canceled the season altogether because the teams could not agree on playing one game per season in the MAC, BC’s brand-new and very expensive arena.

After the 2006 game at the MAC — a game that featured one of the best atmospheres in the history of the storied rivalry — the teams only played one game per season, forfeiting thousands of dollars in tickets, concessions and 50/50 drawings.

The trick is to get these sides back together to work out a deal that helps both sides.

Yes, I know Shawn Galetti scored on a fake punt near the end of the 1991 blowout football game.

Yes, I know BC fans called coach Jon McElroy every name in the book.

Yes, I know the Bulldogs won’t let the Maroons play in the revamped Naranche Stadium.

Yes, I know that some Bulldogs trashed one of the star BC players’ car in the early 1980s.

Yes, I know that the BC graduates control the jobs market in town and discriminate against Bulldogs.

I honestly realize the issues between the Maroons and Bulldogs are on par with the problems plaguing the Middle East. Still, the Palestinians and Israelis will engage in peace talks from time to time.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the old Butte High-Butte Central bad blood hasn’t been handed down to the younger generations. The young Bulldogs and young Maroons actually like each other. Seriously, they do.

Plus, the Maroons and Bulldogs love to compete against each other, which is evident by the great moments that rivalry has given us in recent years.

Who can forget Aschan Richards hitting that long 3-pointer in the double-overtime thriller a few years ago?

Who can forget the BC girls’ amazing comeback that fell just short last year?

Who can forget the Bulldogs letting the clock run out without inbounding the ball?

What we also can’t forget is that the Bulldogs and Maroons always — yes, always — get better after they play each other.

There’s just something about playing on the big stage against their biggest rivals that brings out the best in both sides.

So, logic only tells us that if they played twice, the improvement might be twice as much.

That, though, isn’t what I am suggesting today. I don’t think the Maroons and Bulldogs should play two times in a season.

They should play three times every year.

Even though it isn’t a good gym for spectators, the teams could play one game in Butte High’s Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gymnasium.

Then they could play one game at the MAC. Finally, they could play one game at the Butte Civic Center for what would hopefully be the rubber match.

The Maroons would keep the money made at the MAC, while Butte High would get the proceeds from the game at Butte High. The schools could split the money right down the middle from the game at the Civic Center.

Such a series would mean the Bulldogs and Maroons would be battle tested by the time the postseason rolls around, and it would be a financial windfall for both sides.

It is a win-win-win.

The Maroons could use the money to pay off the remaining debt from building the MAC, and the school district could take a bite out of bullying by hiring a few bus monitors.

—Bill Foley, who should have gone into the business of paving parking lots, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 3 comments

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  • Sid deBarathy
    December 17, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Right on Bill. If the so called adults that run both of these schools put away some of their personal hatred of each other they could also have the same great matchups in softball and volleyball. The players at both schools do like each other and respect each other. The administrators and parents are the problem, not the athletes. Both schools could raise revenue from the additional basketball games as well as adding volleyball and softball to their schedules. I tried for years to get the softball programs to play each other but had no success. Unfortunately, these so called adults are not likely to change their ugly behavior.

  • Sean Pahut
    December 17, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Take your article, Foles, and shove it!! 🙂

  • Guy Perkins
    December 18, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Well said Sid, and Foles. I officiate tournaments all summer in softball, legion baseball, basketball, and this must be a thing that starts when they are older, because all summer I see people blow…errrr…spend a whole summer to bring a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade kids together from all over Silver Bow County to play in a sport and learn sportsmanship, accountability to a team of individuals, and while being competitive, playing for the fun of the game. My observance is these are a group of kids that will go to both schools, and develop a relationship, only to have all that tainted with they get to high school. I find it ironic that the schools take such a strong stand against bullying, and yet use bully like tactics when it comes to deciding where/who/when the kids will play. I did say PLAY. A GAME. As a fan, it would be fun to see the venue rotate. Play twice a year, and rotate the 3 venues.

    Oh, and the whole point of the article. Back up all the anti-bullying talk with some money and hire monitors.


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