That leads to my talking point for this week’s edition. We recently saw the regional field hockey championships contested in Portland and Waterville. Regional baseball title games are held in Standish, Augusta and Bangor. North and South tennis championships are played at an off-campus location. Hockey regionals drop the puck at a neutral site. (Well, unless you’re from Lewiston.)

Most of the major team sports go a central location where there is no home field advantage for Maine Principals’ Association sectional title games … except for soccer and football. And the latter seems a natural for such accommodations on the second Saturday in November. With few exceptions, the grass surfaces around here are frostbitten and mud-ravaged beyond all recognition. Perhaps this year is a bad example, since we’re had September weather the past two weeks, but in 2014, four inches of snow had to be shoveled just so they could play the games.

There is now a lengthy list of turf fields that would provide suitable locations for regional final doubleheaders, holding two on Friday night and two on Saturday in each region. Crowds would increase, because many spectators would stay for both contests. Poor field conditions would cease being a factor. You know, basically all the benefits that have been bestowed upon almost every other sport that puts a regional team trophy on the line.

Doesn’t this feel like a no-brainer? Or are you going to tell me my brain is overlooking an obvious detail that makes such an arrangement unfeasible?

Pelletier: As much as I agree with some of the points you make, you are overlooking one, and it’s a point of consternation in the field hockey community, as well:

If you’ve worked hard enough all season long to be the No. 1 team, you’ve earned the right to host the game where you want to play it.

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If a turf team in field hockey draws the No. 2 seed, and a grass team draws No. 1, to what advantage is the grass team playing by competing on a neutral site of turf?

In football, if my team’s fans have helped carry me this far through a tough-as-nails season, if they’re right on top of the field, loud (and maybe obnoxious, in a good way), and will give my team an advantage, of course I want to the game at my own field. 

Lisbon travels well, but do you really think there will be as many black-and-reds in Wales on Saturday as there will be blue-and-whites? You take that game, send it to Fitzpatrick Stadium, and you watch fewer people show up, sit further from the sidelines and those who do go pay a lot more money for gas, tolls and food. 

And, none of that revenue goes to either team involved.

I think neutral sites work well for some sports, but football is one where, until the end, let the top team enjoy what it has earned over the course of a season: Home cooking.

Oakes: Couldn’t we say that about basketball too, though? Heck, I bet there are some great Lawrence or Winthrop or Mountain Valley teams from back-in-the-day would have loved to take an obvious home-gym advantage deep into the playoffs. Putting it all under one roof makes for a better event.

The Lisbon-Oak Hill field hockey game was a good example of a contest that should have been played closer to home. Carrie Ricker School made a lot more sense than Fitzpatrick Stadium at 3 p.m. on a school day. The football game will have bodacious bipartisan atmosphere wherever you put it on a Saturday afternoon.

I just feel like we’re making an exception for football that ultimately keeps fewer people from being able to enjoy the games in-person. And earning the right to host a late-season game is overrated when your field turns to slop. Leavitt beat Wells a year ago on one of the worst fields I’ve ever seen, but I’m confident that the Hornets and their high-powered offense would love to have played that game at Bates.

Pelletier: > How do you figure more people would attend Lisbon/Oak Hill at Fitzy than in Wales? See Oakes, I knew we’d get back to me being right and you being wrong again one of these weeks …


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