The Illinois High School Association had to have made some serious assumptions when it laid out the plans for the Class 4A Pekin Sectional.
And you know what happens when you assume things.
An assumption was made that two boys basketball teams from the St. Louis metro east area would win regional championships, which is why after announcing Pekin as the sectional host and publishing a schedule the IHSA altered its plans. It moved one semifinal to Alton High School, pitting the winners of the O'Fallon and Quincy Regionals against each other at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
It left the other semifinal in Pekin and scheduled it for 7 p.m. Tuesday as well.
The IHSA must have assumed two schools from the Quad Cities wouldn't win regional titles or it would have made alternate plans for that semifinal as well, right? Now that Moline and Rock Island won regional championships and Quincy did as expected by winning a regional title -- the Blue Devils were the highest seeded team in the regional so the IHSA shouldn't have expected a metro east team to win -- the IHSA administrators are faced with a dilemma when they wake up Saturday morning.
How do they tell Quincy, Moline and Rock Island they all have to travel when Belleville West stays close to home?
There's a simple solution to this problem: Everyone meets in Pekin.
It is the most fair thing to do.
Sectional games shouldn't be moved for geographic purposes, plain and simple. No other sectional in the state at the Class 4A level is having games moved for any reason. No other sectional is having its semifinals played on the same night at the same time. That in itself is a major problem and a poorly thought through idea.
Especially at this time of the year, many head coaches like to scout an upcoming opponents themselves. Or they may send a top assistant. That's impossible in this case. However, the other seven sectionals all play their games either back-to-back on the same night or at the same time on back-to-back nights. The Pekin Sectional should hold to the same schedule.
Now on to the travel aspect of these moves.
Should both sectional semifinals be played in Pekin, each of the four schools would be expected to log some substantial miles. All these numbers are taken from mapquest.com with the shortest route used. Belleville West has a 170-mile trip to Pekin. Quincy has a 122-mile trek. For Moline, it's 99 miles. For Rock Island, it's 102. The Maroons would have the longest trip, but it's not egregiously different.
Making Quincy and Belleville West both travel to Alton is an egregious mistake.
Again, according to the numbers provided by mapquest.com, Quincy will have to travel 127 miles to Alton on Tuesday. Belleville West has to travel 38.
So Quincy actually will have to travel further, albeit by 5 miles, to get to Alton than it would to Pekin. Quincy receives no travel benefit by playing the game in Alton, but Belleville West gets a significant break.
Shouldn't the idea behind moving a sectional game for geographic reasons be to benefit both schools? If the benefit is for only one school, shouldn't you reconsider what you are doing? Doesn't this move contradict one of the IHSA's core beliefs?
According to the IHSA website, one of its beliefs is "equality and fairness must always be safeguarded."
The IHSA administrators have an opportunity to show they truly believe in what they represent.
They can move the Quincy-Belleville West game to more neutral site where travel both schools is more equal. Springfield would work. That's a 95-mile trip for Belleville West and a 115-mile trip for Quincy. Jacksonville would suffice, too. That's a 99-mile trip for the Maroons and an 81-mile trek for the Blue Devils.
And they can move the Moline-Rock Island matchup to the Quad Cities, say at Augustana College or United Township High School or any place big enough to hold what would be an epic crowd.
Or the IHSA administrators could do the most fair thing for everyone. Keep the sectional in Pekin where it was scheduled to be all along.
That's assuming the IHSA looks at this issue with some common sense.
But we all know what happens when you assume.