‘Welcome to Butte’ doesn’t sound so welcoming

‘Welcome to Butte’ doesn’t sound so welcoming

Those “Butte vs. Everybody” shirts from UpTop were a big hit for so many reasons.

Here is one of them from Nov. 8, 2008:

Senior quarterback Bryce Carver ran for three touchdowns to lead Dillon to a 21-7 Class A playoff win over Havre at a cold, windy Blue Pony Stadium.

As Dillon pulled off what was, on paper, an upset that day, an older Havre fan cheered loudly while standing up against the fence behind the visiting sideline. He yelled through a small, toy-like MSU-Northern Lights megaphone.

Dillon was called for 10 penalties that totaled 117 yards in that game. The officials flagged Havre seven times for 98 yards.

That, for some reason, was a clear sign to the old Havre fan that the officials were cheating the Blue Ponies. Late in the game, he decided he had enough of this blatant dishonesty that was costing his team a trip to the semifinals.

“Go back to Butte,” he yelled at the officials.

Yes, he said Butte.

It is again worth noting that Dillon was playing Havre. None of the officials were from Butte or anywhere near Butte.

Nobody in that stadium, except for the lowly sportswriter for The Montana Standard, was from Butte.

Yet, this fan decided to tell the officials to “go back to Butte,” as if he was telling his boss to “go to Hell.”

This kind of sentiment is something Butte folks have dealt with forever. Whether it is Butte envy, as some call it, or good old-fashioned snobbish attitudes, it is, simply put, not very nice.

It certainly would not come close to passing the Thumper’s mother test.

For whatever reason, this attitude has been worse than usual this school year.

“Go back to Butte” is something we hear repeatedly yelled at players and fans of Butte High and Butte Central when we hit the road for games.

Even worse, many fans are starting to talk down to us when they come to our town for a game.

If you have been to any kind of high school sporting event in Butte this school year, you have undoubtedly heard it.

As soon as the first call goes against the visiting team, you will hear one of the visiting fans say, “Oh, welcome to Butte.”

They are not saying it like they are taking those nice welcome signs near the interstate off ramp to heart, either. They are dripping with sarcasm as they accuse the officials of cheating their team.

While I admire such an ironic sentiment, it is hard to get over the fact that they are flat out lumping Butte in with the Houston Astros.

You never hear the sarcastic “welcome to Bozeman” or “welcome to Billings.”

It is not just the men and women in stripes these fans are accusing of cheating their team, either. The “welcome to Butte” cries imply that the entire town is in on the act.

You hear it from fans from Bozeman. You hear it from Billings. You hear it from Helena, Great Falls and Missoula. This year, we have especially heard it from Missoula.

“Oh, welcome to Butte.”

When they are really mad, they add the state name.

“Oh, welcome to Butte, Montana.”

Sometimes the state gets a colorful adjective.

They say it as if they are giving up all pretense that they ever had a shred of respect for anything or anyone from our town.

It makes Montana Grizzly football coach Bobby Hauck’s bashing of Bozeman look like a sweet serenade of love and tenderness.

High school fans come to town hoping their boys and girls will get a fair shot against the Butte teams. But once the first travel call goes against their team, they realize that is not going to happen.

Then we hear it.

“Oh, welcome to Butte.”

Of course, people say some really stupid things when they watch high school sporting events. There is just something about a high school game that brings out the moron in so many.

Recently, we had a fan of an opposing team get thrown out of a game for verbally assaulting a referee — when his team was leading by more than 30 points in the fourth quarter.

He was swearing at the referee and calling him names to the point that a Butte fan said “look at the scoreboard and shut up.”

It was kind of like when Yosemite Sam entered the saloon bragging about being the fastest gun north, south, east and west of the Pecos, and Bugs Bunny butted in from across the room with an “aahh, shut up.”

Instead of hilarity ensuing, however, this shut up led to an invitation to fight — either in the stands or outside.

Taking into consideration the score at the time, this ejection ranks this fan near the dumbness level of the Pink Diaper Bag Guy from the 2005 Class AA State tournament.

Again, there is something about high school sports that make people say and do dumb things.

The “welcome to Butte” insults, though, cannot be pinned on heat-of-the-moment stupidity. Rather, it is rooted in a deep disrespect for the people of the Mining City.

For instance, the coach who was booted from a game a few weeks ago, clearly had a poor opinion of Butte before his game even tipped off.

He received his first technical foul for arguing a call.

A few seconds later, he got his second technical foul, which comes with an ejection and an automatic one-game suspension, when he was apparently talking to his assistant coach.

At first glance, it appeared the technical might have been unwarranted.

The official, however, heard those magical words that should get you run out every time.

No, not the word Crash Davis said to the umpire to get tossed from the Durham Bulls game. The official heard, “Welcome to Butte, Montana.”

“That is calling me a cheater,” the official, who also works Frontier Conference games, said a couple of weeks later. “How else am I supposed to take it?”

There is no other way.

Instead of getting mad about this increasing saying, however, we should embrace it and flip it around on the opposing fans, just like we did with the “dirty water” shirts to counter those not-so friendly chants to remind us of that pesky public health crisis we endured.

Whenever the first call goes against an opponent of one of our home teams, the entire Butte crowd should stand up and sarcastically yell, “Welcome to Butte.”

You know, let’s really mess with their heads and let them think we really are all in on it.

Then we should all raise a pinky to our chins and unleash a Dr. Evil-level maniacal laugh.

Give them the kind of belly laugh that will let them know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it really is Butte vs. everybody.

— Bill Foley, the only guy in town who doesn’t have a “Butte vs. Everybody” shirt, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Michael Gardner
    February 4, 2020, 4:30 pm

    Back in the early 70’s one of my college roommates and I were at a basketball game at the Civic Center. After the game there were a couple of fights in front and we decided to step in and break one up. The guy from out of town said ‘where are you guys from?’ When we said ‘Butte’ he said ‘figures’. Then my roommate and I started arguing about who was going to kick this guys ass with the guy standing about 5 feet away. Suddenly from our left this little guy walked up and smacked the guy and put him on the ground. The loud mouth got up holding his mouth and ran away. The guy who hit him said ‘I got tired of waiting for someone to smack that asshole so I did it.’ I didn’t know him at the time, but after that he became one of my best friends.


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