This is an open letter to the VPA, Vermont Principals Association
(To regular readers, this is a Vermont localized issue. Feel free to read, but it might not be that interesting to you)
The topic is fairness and a situation that needs to change. I am a parent, a former coach, a player and fan. I am also a businessman and a very logical person. In none of these roles can I come to terms with awarding home field advantage, on turf, to a team playing in a state championship game (lower seed, too). Take a look at the picture above, what is wrong?
- BHS is written on the scoreboard (instead of “Home”)
- The actual home team (by VPA rules) has their score on the “Visitor” Side
- The field is turf (maybe you cannot see that)
- The scoreboard says “Seahorses”
What else causes concern?
- The “away” team is playing a “home” game
- The CVU parents in the stands were informed that they were in the “BHS student section” and asked to move.
- The posting on the VPA website has the scores reversed (by convention)
- The ranking system allowed a team with fewer D1 points than the 13 seed to be ranked 1st
- VPA paid the ‘Visitors’ for the use of their field
There are so many way ways to reconcile this situation, yet no attempt was made to do so, you really need to figure this out. The game could have been switched with the Division 2 venue, this would have been the easiest. To be open and honest, my son is a CVU player. Why playing on turf is so important to VPA (more important than a neutral site)? A very large percentage of games (90% +) are played on grass during the season. I know the issues with grass (mud, etc.,..). But, there is a way to make things right. If field conditions warrant turf, then make that call. But, realize that the differences between turf play and grass are very very big for Soccer. It would be like moving the finals of Wimbledon to Asphalt – what it takes to get a team to the finals is suddenly very different from the season. Even within turf, the fields are different (South Burlington is different from Burlington). My simple point is that VPA awarded Burlington home field advantage.
One could easily make the case, a strong case, for many other issues, like the rankings, referee (2 ref system, versus 3) but that will be for a different day. With this, there are also many more issues to account for, I understand that – but it is absolutely wrong to award home field advantage, with a different surface to one team in the finals. Burlington is a strong program and will be in contention year after year. The point, this issue is not simply going to go away and should not be left to chance. I could think of a number of very simple alternatives to make things more fair – there are two issues the home field and the surface.
- Higher seed is allowed to choose between two alternative venues
- Two venues (one grass, one turf) are preselected
- Use a neutral site (as in a University or College)
VPA, do you have any comments? Is a letter of apology forthcoming (to CVU players, coaches and administrators)? I waited to write this, in the hope that CVU did win, so that it did not come out as a ‘whine’. I made the issue clear, offered alternative solutions in an objective manner. I now hope VPA has the courtesy to respond.
Mitch Lieberman – Father/Taxpayer
(photo credit: Vermont Sports Images, modified)