We’re not ready for some football

Back in the freedom of summer vacation as a young boy, I would often play 27 or 36 holes of golf at the Highland View Golf Course.

We’d spend most of the day there. The time between rounds was spent play cribbage, hearts or on putting contests on the practice green. Then I’d get a ride home, up Main Street, in the late afternoon.

There was never anything more depressing than passing Butte High School, looking down at Naranche Stadium and seeing the Bulldog football team practicing.

Oh, it was an impressive site. It seemed like Butte High had a thousand players out for the team in those days of the mid 1980s.

Seeing the Bulldogs practicing though, meant my days spent on the golf course were numbered. Soon I’d be stuck in a classroom for most of the day because the start of football meant the start of school.

I couldn’t understand why football coaches had to have practice then. Why were they so eager to get the summer over with?

And why did they have to give me a daily reminder that the worst day of the year — the first day of school — was quickly approaching?

That, however, was back when football season started in football season. The Butte High-Butte Central game used to be on a Friday in September. So it was at least in the teens of August and maybe the 20s before practice began.

Now, football practice starts right as baseball begins the second half of the season.

Seriously, the All-Star Game was last week. Next week, Montana Tech starts football practice. The Oredigger players report to campus on Aug. 1. Their first practice is Aug. 3.

Montana Tech and Montana Western open the season Aug. 23. Tech will have two games under its belt before the calendar strikes Sept. 1.

In 2012, Butte High was 1-1 and it was still August. Our high school teams start the season in August every year, and that is just not right.

The All-Star Game, by the way, is commonly referred to as the Mid-Summer Classic. Football players, according to the Kenney Chesney song, are the “boys of fall.” Last time I checked, fall is not two weeks after the middle of summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I like football as much as the next guy. Actually, I like it a lot more than the next guy. In fact, I’ve been accused of revolving my life around the sport.

There is just no reason for us to start it so early.

Montana Tech and Montana Western are hardly alone. Lots of teams report to their “fall camps” the same week as the Orediggers and Bulldogs.

Then, college football abandons us when we need it the most.

With the exception of the one or two teams that make the playoffs, the Frontier Conference season will be over after the first Saturday in November.

Then, as winter starts to set in early, our Saturdays are open but the golf courses are closed.

College football is done for most of the teams in America while the NFL still has two months of regular season and one month of playoffs still to go.

Forget about the BCS, the corruption of the NCAA or the borderline corrupt connection between the SEC and ESPN, the real reform needed in college football is to teach schedule makers how to read a calendar.

Sometime in early or mid August, I will stop by practice for Butte Central, Butte High or Montana Tech and, without a doubt, someone will utter the four worst words in the history of the English language.

“How was your summer?”

To that I will respond, “I’ll tell you in a month.”

I’m not on scholarship, so my summer runs at least through Labor Day weekend. Summer is short enough in these parts to let it go any earlier than we have to.

It has been scientifically proven that the weeks of the football season go by faster than a regular week. So, the earlier football begins the faster the summer goes.

We have plenty of time for football, so we need to end this needless rushing of the best time of year — summer vacation.

President Obama, do the right thing and sign an executive order and mandate that college and high school football seasons begin in September.

If you don’t do if for the football players, then do if for the children.

Next week is at least a month too early for them to start fretting about the first day of school.

—Bill Foley, who now has Kenney Chesney stuck in his head, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Alan
    July 22, 2014, 9:07 pm

    I just wanted to say publicly that you have done great work here at Butte Sports. Another great column. It was great knowing you and reading you and I plan to continue doing so once I leave. Competition is healthy and can be good for any profession and you and the Butte Sports guys were as classy as they get. I appreciated working beside you if not with you. You all have wonderful integrity and are very, very, talented. I wish you all the best as I do the MTS. This is a wonderful town and region that includes GREAT people of Anaconda, Dillon, Deer Lodge and more. I will miss hanging out at games with you, but I will never forget you all and how Butte/SW MT America is one of the best places with the best people and yes even some of the best writers anywhere.
    Keep it up…and I still think you need to write a column about a 3-class sports system in Montana except for football!


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