Trying to be fair to all is our challenge

Periodically, I remember it’s important to explain how we map out our sports coverage here.
For one thing, while some readers stick through thick and thin, a percentage of our sports section readership naturally turns over every few years as their daughters and sons move up onto the local high school varsity teams and then graduate. It’s part of the whole circle of life thing. An occasional refresher course is therefore a good idea.
And even longtime readers may wonder, for example, where was the Independent sports reporter when the Mount Abe girls’ and boys’ soccer teams recently played at Middlebury, or why we gave full coverage to field hockey and girls’ soccer games this past weekend when the Tiger football team was dueling for first place?
Well, normally I would have covered the Eagle-Tiger girls’ soccer game on Oct. 2, but that Saturday was my only chance to watch my older daughter play field hockey for her college team, not to mention celebrate her 18th birthday. That was an exception. To make up for missing that soccer game, we covered the Tiger girls at Vergennes on this past Saturday and the Mount Abe girls hosting Vergennes on Tuesday.
But that dramatic Eagle-Tiger boys’ soccer game on Oct. 5? Well, we had seen each team play at least twice already, and had yet to see any Otter Valley squad play. And two OV teams were hosting games at the same time, field hockey and boys’ soccer. So photographer Trent Campbell and I headed down to Brandon for a two-fer.
This past Friday’s Tiger football game vs. Champlain Valley? Well, because we had covered the MUHS field hockey team only once, and three of the squad’s last four games were scheduled on the road, we went to the field hockey game earlier that Friday. And that MUHS-at-VUHS girls’ soccer game on Saturday? We had seen each of those teams just once, and felt it was important to catch up with them.
I did walk over from Chez K to watch the second half of the Tiger football team’s impressive rout of CVU; that let me add a few details to the basic write-up we culled from other sources, but that was on my time.
By now, the picture should be emerging: We try to cover all the teams as evenly as possible. For much of the season, that goal means we might miss a compelling match-up in order to be fair to all.
At this point, counting the Tiger football team’s game at OV we will attend, we have covered or will cover in person every local soccer and field hockey team at least twice, the Eagle and Otter football teams once each, the OV field hockey and boys’ soccer team once each, and the Tiger football team twice.
We have also reported on almost every MUHS, VUHS and Mount Abe cross-country meet; taken photos of MUHS and Mount Abe home cross-country races; and reported on OV cross-country results when I can find them.
Readers will notice OV comes up a little short. It’s not for lack of respect for Otter athletes and coaches, but a matter of simple math: We have fewer towns in our market area that send students to OV. The Independent circulates in Whiting, Leicester, Goshen and Brandon, but not other Rutland Northeast towns. But we try to see the OV teams once a season, and we include them in all sports wrap-ups and in our schedule and scoreboard.
We also try to cover the Middlebury College teams when we can, and admittedly pay more attention to the wildly popular men’s hockey team and, recently, increasingly successful men’s hoop team.
Coverage of Panther teams increases when they reach the postseason, when they hit their turf fields in the spring before the high school teams can play, or when I’ve finished catching up with the high school teams in a given season. If the Panthers were not all on the road this weekend, we’d probably catch a game. In the meantime, we present edited versions of the articles provided by Middlebury sports information director Brad Nadeau and his crew.
Now that high school coverage has been more or less fairly doled out, we can also start picking out more exciting match-ups. It will be hard to pass up the Tiger football game with Colchester.
One last note: We do rely on other media sources for games we don’t see. We try to get the names of as many athletes as humanly and reasonably possible into stories of games we do cover, especially of defenders and midfielders and linemen who don’t often see their names in lights. But we can’t put names of players into stories of games we don’t see.
That inevitable shortcoming is one reason we work so hard three times a year to put out our special sections on high school sports, with rosters and pictures of all.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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