Some really stupid news coming from the PIAA today that the state championship games for football and soccer will be played at Cumberland Valley High School from 2022-2025. They had previously been played at Hersheypark Stadium dating all the way back to 1998.
I'm guessing they will say that this high school was selected because of it's competitive offer, but to turn down offers from Hershey and Penn State amongst other sites is absolutely ridiculous. I get that there isn't unlimited money in the world, but isn't the whole purpose of the state championship to give the high school kids an enjoyable experience that they earned?
I mean think about it from a football perspective first - kids are getting up at 5am for workouts all summer. They practice hard all year. They fight through a season. They fight through the playoffs. They win the WPIAL championship at Heinz Field. And they get rewarded by getting to play the biggest game of their lives at some random high school off the side of the interstate in the middle of the state. Now I'm sure that Cumberland Valley is fine and all, but do you see my point? High school athletes across all sports should be rewarded with a special experience in these big games. Local stadiums are for Friday night lights, but lets get the kids into a special place for these big games eh? I mean how special can a state championship game be in a venue like this?
In addition to Football, Cumberland Valley HS also won bids to host the state championships for a slew of other sports, including field hockey, volleyball and soccer. Is this school really that beautiful, impressive and equipped to host these major events, or is it just convenient that this high school is extremely close to the PIAA headquarters?
I KNOW the reasoning for this will always come back to saving money saving money saving money blah blah blah. My point here is that it is absolutely ridiculous that there isn't an investment in the experience for high school athletes that earn the right to play for a state championship. This just doesn't go for football either. Each and every sport should have a postseason tournament that is played somewhere prestigious if applicable. We live in a state with major football stadiums, basketball arenas, and other high quality facilities for all athletes to use, but instead they agree to reward all of the hard work with a really special game in......Mechanicsburg.
And the outrage doesn't start and end with me...the reaction online today is totally in agreement that this is absolutely ridiculous.
I've been angry about this same issue before on a local level. As a high school hockey player in Western PA, one of the most memorable experiences of my life was playing playoff hockey games at Mellon Arena. I was lucky enough to do that 3 times, but shortly after I graduated they changed things up and moved these games to different, smaller venues. How is that fair to the kids. All the responses I get is money money blah blah blah, but the reward to play at a professional stadium drove us all season long and it's a shame that that reward isn't there for everyone.