The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

COLUMN: Naughty Fans


February 28, 2018

A few weeks ago I was at the district basketball tournament when I witnessed something that really bothered me.

The Whitehall Trojans boys basketball team was taking on Manhattan in a game with everything on the line. The winner would live to play another day and advance to the divisional tournament in Billings and the losers would be done for the season.

Anyone who has been to the district tournament knows that it is always a great atmosphere with a lot of passion and this was certainly the case for the elimination.

Unfortunately, the Trojans kind of ran out of gas near the end of the game, and the Tigers took control late. It sucked to watch a great senior class nearing the end of their high school basketball careers, but is does happen. Even state champs have a last game.

Despite the fact it appeared that Whitehall would not be moving on, the kids kept playing hard and when Max Feight drained a three-pointer and was fouled, they had an opportunity to chip away at the lead. It was at this time I wanted to go into the stands and start escorting a select group of Manhattan fans out of the arena. During the play a Tiger player had been injured and he was down on the gym floor in pain. Press row happened to be right in front of the Manhattan section and I had to hear them complain for the first three plus quarters, but I could not believe what I started to hear. Rather than turn their focus to the player who was on the floor in a lot of pain there was an uproar. It was almost like they could care less as they screamed to the officials about the call on Feight.

I honestly didn't get a good look at the foul, but it didn't matter. Their fans were acting like jackasses over a foul call when one of their own kids was hurt. Thankfully the kid was up to his feet in a matter of moments, but at the time it looked scary.

I love sports and really enjoy covering the Trojans. Unfortunately, I see behavior like what happened in Belgrade all the time and it gets old. I saw a group of fans trash the arena last year at Divisionals and nobody seemed to care.

I don't know if it was the correct call, but what I do know is that if a kid is injured you shut up and make sure he's okay. It was the same people who had complained the most of the game, so it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise.

While it is always nice to get the victory, there are so many other lessons to be learned in high school and other youth sports.

If we expect the kids to behave appropriately on the court or field, then fans should do the same thing.

Every once in a while I'll help with the radio broadcast of a Trojans game and we will talk about a bad call if it happens, but certainly won't scream and complain about it like we were five years old and someone came bursting into the bedroom and stole our Legos.


I don't think I saw one Whitehall player get a technical foul in basketball. Can't really remember one from anybody they played either. A quick glance in the stands and their probably should have been well over 100 spankings with a wooden spoon.

I bet referees in the NFL make quite a bit of money, and so do the players, so if anyone wants to yell at them that is fine, but that is a professional sport.

These refs in high school can't possibly make very much and don't deserve all the crap they get. If everyone in the stands is so knowledgeable, perhaps they need to start helping out by being a referee. It would be a win-win situation. The basketball and football world needs your immense sporting knowledge, so step up to the plate.

Luckily, Whitehall fans are generally pretty good, and certainly wouldn't do what I saw the other night at the district tournament from the other fans.


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