@Brass-Man, I wonder if the masked question should revolve around the existence of sanctioned events and from the perspective of someone that does not play vintage. Clearly this is irrelevant to MTGO.
What I mean by this, is that there is often the perception that vintage is a dead format. This immediately turns to the question of: what is meant by dead? Every other format has a clear and direct correlation between the number/frequency/selection of sanctioned events, and the perceived health of the format. For a variety of reasons, events that allow play-test cards do not feed into this equation. Said events, despite being very similar, are still different. I am not at all suggesting that the perception of said differences are valid, but rather I think that it is worthwhile reminding ourselves that they exist. By existing, the whole RL discussion is able to act somewhat as a scapegoat, particularly as it relates to being a barrier to entry, and is hence, as the OP puts it: a red herring.
It would be amazing, if there could be some consolidation between the broader vintage community's this is how it is vintage, and the official perceived WoTC vintage format. That being said, at least several reasons for why this is not in WoTC's best interest right now to provide such consolidation are quite clear.