Decision to end state basketball tournament early was foolish

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dear Editor,

Political decisions need to reflect “realism” and “common sense.” I was amazed at the lack of both exhibited by the Montana High School Association as Mark Beckman, Director, panicked in the midst of our current virus excitement when the first reported virus case appeared in the state.

The state basketball tournaments had drawn thousands of people who were together in four Montana cities for the various Montana state basketball tournaments for three days when the MHSA Director Beckman declared at the conclusion of the Friday night semi-final games that he was immediately canceling additional games in the middle of the tournaments even though no infections had been identified among the participants. He failed to recognize that any potential infections had already been encountered by the crowds, and common sense would have allowed completion of one more day of the championship rounds.

Not only was this a major disappointment for the seniors completing their high school years of training and effort, but the waste of thousands of dollars expended by parents and schools to travel great distances. Like the other teams, the Winifred girls had the opportunity to capture their first state Class C championship in 20 years and everyone attending the Missoula tournament would have happily spent one more day. This impulsive decision is typical of the education bureaucracy, which has no understanding or respect for tax dollars and expenditures in general—again an example of spending of other people’s money.

If the MHSA was truly concerned about virus exposure, Beckman could have restricted no more ticket sales for the championship day of games but allow current ticket holders and teams to complete the tournament since those already present were completely exposed to any potential dangers (although there was no evidence that the virus was present). It would have been nice to see Governor Bullock provide some leadership in draconian decisions as Chief Executive, but then he is too busy campaigning.

Sen. Ed Butcher (Ret)




Do you think the coronavirus will spread into Central Montana?