That Columbia Falls fan makes us all look bad

That Columbia Falls fan makes us all look bad

Have you ever felt like you are the dumbest person on the planet?

We all feel that way sometimes, some of us more than others.

Maybe you locked your keys in the car with the engine running. Perhaps you spelled Michelangelo as Michael Angelo on a Facebook post.

Maybe even one time you got so mad at the officials at a state basketball tournament that you ran onto the court and swung at the air with your pink diaper bag.

That last one actually happened with an Anaconda man during the 2005 Class A State boys’ basketball tournament at the Butte Civic Center. There is no way that fan has lived down that one moment when he completely lost his mind.

We all have brain cramps and do something really dumb from time to time. If we are lucky, nobody sees it.

“I’m the dumbest son of a gun in the whole world,” we think to ourselves.

Well, rest easy. You are not the dumbest person in the world. Not even close. That distinction now belongs to a guy from Columbia Falls, Montana.

Yes, there is a new king of Mount Dumbo.

During a Columbia Falls-Browning girls’ basketball game at the Western A Divisional tournament in Hamilton, this guy, decked in Columbia Falls colors and standing among fans of the Wildkats, held up a sign that read “FTI.”

Browning, of course, is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the sports teams from Browning High School are called the “Indians.”

We assume “I” is for Indians. We can guess what the “F” and “T” stand for.

After the picture of the Columbia Falls fan holding up the sign made its rounds on social media, the fan went to Instagram to say the sign meant “For Ty and Indy.”

He said the sign was not meant as a derogatory, racist attack on the girls’ playing basketball, their families and ancestors.

“Ty was a great friend of my family, and Indy was our puppy,” he wrote. “I am not a racist as I have many native friends from Montana and all over the United States and Canada.”

As if the sign was not bad enough, this guy went and made it worse by using the black-friend defense.

By the way, at least 99.99 percent of people who use the black-friend defense when accused of being racist are, indeed, highly racist.

By now you would think that everybody would know that it does not matter how many American Indian friends you supposedly have. It doesn’t matter if you choose two $10 bills instead of a $20 because you don’t want a picture of Andrew Jackson in your wallet.

It is your actions, not the number of so-called Native American friends that make you a racist.

Holding a sign that reads “FTI” at a Browning Indians game trumps your “friendships.” No pun intended.

Let’s, for the sake of argument, suspend reality and say he is telling the truth when he said he was not trying to be racist.

What kind of moron uses a coded sign at a high school girls’ basketball game to honor a friend, who is not playing in that game, and puppy?

Even if the puppy could read, he would not understand the sign. He would probably assume his owner was a racist clown.

Also, you would think a person with even a marginal IQ would realize his tribute would be taken a different way.

Could he not have come up with a better order of letters than FTI when playing the Browning Indians? Could he not see that giving Indy top billing over Ty would have made his sign read “FIT?”

Nobody is going to take that as racist.

And why was he not seen holding the sign when Columbia Falls was playing a team not named the Indians?

If this guy is telling the truth — and nobody believes that he is — he is very bad at abbreviations.

“Really, Bob, my text message that said ‘WTF’ with nine exclamation points was paying tribute to Walter, Theresa and my old dead dog Fido. I wasn’t picking a fight.

“And, when I wrote ‘GFYS,’ I was reminding you of our friends Gary, Frank and Yvonne, and how much they used to enjoy watching cartoons with that wily puddy tat Sylvester.

“Geez, why you so edgy?”

It is hard to believe that anybody could think that the Ty-and-Indy defense would fool one person. That he tried makes you wonder how he got out of the first grade.

This sign-holding guy is a poor reflection on the entire Columbia Falls fan base, and that is too bad. As a group, Columbia Falls fans are typically very supportive, and they are always quite friendly.

Now, as they get ready to cheer on their girls in the Class A State tournament in Great Falls, Columbia Falls fans and residents must be so embarrassed.

Columbia Falls High School Principal Scott Gaiser took to Facebook to try to defend his school and town, which was so unfairly put in the cross-hairs by a knucklehead.

“When we at Columbia Falls became aware of this incident, we were saddened and angered, understanding that though we had no control, this action reflected upon our school and community,” Gaiser wrote, in part. “No matter the intention of the sign, in no way do we at Columbia Falls HS condone this type of behavior but rather strive to uphold our core values of character, focus, honor and strength.”

Of course, this incident comes just a few months after Woody’s Country Store in Kalispell refused to serve the Browning cross country teams on their way to the Mountain West Meet in Missoula.

Is there a problem with racism in the northwestern part of the state? Probably not. But a few people are making that whole region look bad.

Actually, they are making the entire state look bad, and Montana’s reputation is still reeling from the Unabomber, Freeman and that legislator who introduced a bill to make it illegal to wear yoga pants.

That guy holding up that sign makes us all look like racist hicks. His lame excuse also makes us look like morons if we do anything short of laugh him all the way to Idaho.

The guy is a racist at worst and a complete idiot at best. Either way, he should be celebrated as the laughingstock that he is. He should be humiliated to the point that he is too embarrassed to show his face in public until somebody even dumber comes along and knocks him off his mountain of shame.

That is why there is only one true winner in this entire sad incident. Finally, that Anaconda guy with the pink diaper bag is off the hook.

He no longer looks like the dumbest guy in the world. Next to that guy from Columbia Falls, he looks like a Rhodes Scholar.

Pink diaper bag and all.

— Bill Foley, who swings a blue diaper bag when he rushes the court, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 7 comments

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  • Fraser macdonald
    March 5, 2019, 9:21 am

    What a column! You are getting in the A
    Category! Keep it up!

    • Shawn Morgan@Fraser macdonald
      March 5, 2019, 10:00 am

      Thank you for saying what everyone else thought. I actually was saying the same thing on Facebook. I also added that I’d be making State Tournament Shirts that say, "FBH". When approached and asked what they mean you can say, for Beau Hill, the "FTI" guy from Columbia Falls. Lol

  • Larry
    March 5, 2019, 1:22 pm

    Thank you and we look forward to seeing at the next game cheering Fido, Ty, and Indy.

  • Don Paulson-AD
    March 5, 2019, 1:32 pm

    Thanks- well written- to the point. As AD at Cut Bank HS it is always nerve racking when we play Browning , Harlem & Rocky Boy – worrying about that one idiot that will screw up the great rivalry we have developed over the years. It can & does come from both sides. I liked your article hopefully we all think & take the high road
    Don Paulson-AD
    Cut Bank High School

    • Alvin Yellowowl @Don Paulson-AD
      March 6, 2019, 7:08 am

      Don… yep and that is the reason I haven’t attended a game in cutbank for years after a altercation with the ticket ladies at the door and the remarks they were saying about are Native children..

  • Geoffrey J. Gallus
    March 6, 2019, 4:35 pm

    Foles, This is perhaps the best thing you have ever written. On behalf of our children who I imagine are largely embarrassed and mostly find this behavior disgraceful, I thank you. The people in that area can talk in niceties about how these people don’t represent them and their values all they want. The fact is they have elected and re-elected to the State Legislature people like Derek Skees and others who have an extremist, white nationalist agenda that they don’t even try to hide. For one reason or another they have also attracted a number of racist white supremacist elements into Kalispell and the surrounding communities. There was not long ago an extremely racist incident that occurred at the High School level in Polson. The incidents of anti-semitism and racism echoing out of Whitefish are well documented and this leaves a horrible stain on our entire state. This is what we can now expect from places like the Flathead Valley apparently. The Bitteroot isn’t all that different with people like Rep Theresa Manzella and Sen. Fields from Superior inviting the Bundy Family in for a gathering of extremist public land opponents to start what they hope will be a Sage Brush Rebellion. They can talk about their values after they stop sending these people to Helena to represent them and stop voting them on to their school boards and city/country councils. Until they take a hard look in the mirror and make some changes that Rodeo Guy does in fact represent their community. Whatever shame they may feel about it is perhaps long overdue. They need to stop doing damage control and instead stop that which is causing the damage. Way to shine a light William. Ya did us proud.

  • LittleDog
    March 8, 2019, 9:00 am

    Overall, your thoughtful article is appreciated, Foley. Thank you.
    But you wrote: “Is there a problem with racism in the northwestern part of the state? Probably not.”
    The daily lived experience of many local natives tell a very different story, especially in Flathead County. Northwestern Montana is a place where Native people are routinely subject to more frequent negative attention from local law-enforcement, Housing discrimination, and employment bias due to racially-based prejudice and assumptions.

    Perhaps this imported sentiment of ‘othering’ the original people of this region is a generational problem that is, at least to some degree, influenced by the school system itself. Despite efforts made through Montana’s Indian Education for All, schools still teach from a place of ethnocentricity that touts a Wild West narrative and gives non-Indians permission to live a life of conscience-free privilege.

    Furthermore, in the criminal (in)justice system, Flathead County prosecutors pursue indigenous people more aggressively and regularly win in the courtroom with all-white juries, regardless of the actual guilt or innocence of the accused.

    Foley, thank you for your writing of this article. I’m glad that you called-out this symptomatic fissure of a much larger problem in Northwest Montana.


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