Schuckman: Rule keeping Illinois prep soccer team from playing in postseason needs to change
QUINCY — A 3-0 loss to Collinsville in the Class 3A regional semifinals Tuesday night brought the Quincy High School boys soccer team’s season to an end one game into the postseason.
If only Mundelein Carmel could have been so lucky.
The Corsairs are watching the postseason unfold instead of playing in it. Had things gone differently the second half of the season, the roles may have been reversed.
Both teams were middle-of-the-pack programs in their respective sectionals with similar records. Quincy was seeded seventh in its sub-sectional following an 8-11-1 regular season, while Carmel was seeded 10th in its 16-team Class 2A sectional with an 8-10-2 record.
One played in the postseason. The other didn’t.
Here’s why: A flawed rule with excessively punitive damages.
Carmel is being left out of the postseason — the Corsairs originally were scheduled to play a regional semifinal Wednesday night, but the Corsairs are not listed anywhere on the Grayslake Central Sectional bracket on the Illinois High School Association website — for receiving a collective 25 yellow cards during the regular season.
The Corsairs are in violation of that rule, although there appears to be discrepancies in the reporting of at least one card which was given to a player who didn’t participate in that game, according to media reports out of the greater Chicago area.
The rule was enacted in Illinois 2014, but it is not a National Federation of State High School Associations mandate. For example, Wisconsin uses it, but Indiana and Iowa do not.
But it is a rule Illinois coaches are fully aware of, which is why Quincy coach Ron Bridal and his staff openly talked about it and worried about it 10 games into the Blue Devils’ season.
At that stage, the Blue Devils had received 15 yellow cards. Fortunately, the Blue Devils received only two cards during the final 10 games, alleviating some of the concerns. But the issue could have changed the way Bridal coached, the way the Blue Devils played and the way the season unfolded.
It was extra angst the Quincy coaching staff didn’t need.
Still, some will continue to argue this: If you know the rule, you abide by the rule.
That doesn’t make the rule fair, and that’s where this situation has brought us.
The rule needs to change.
At this stage, Carmel has no recourse. Even if it can prove a reporting discrepancy, the state tournament series is underway and changing the schedule now is unfair to teams that have already played and been eliminated. As painful as that is for the Corsairs and as infuriating as it is for those around the state, it’s the reality of the situation.
What the Corsairs and those fighting for them can do now is beat the drum loudly to create change.
Soccer is the only sport under the IHSA umbrella where teams are banned for excessive fouls. Basketball teams aren’t left out of the postseason for accumulating too many technical fouls. Football teams aren’t sidelined because of a high number of unsportsmanlike penalties.
So why should soccer be different?
The bottom line is it shouldn’t be.
The IHSA uses terms like equitable and fair in order to “enrich the education experience,” but there is nothing equitable and fair about this rule. Teams shouldn’t be left out of the postseason for subjective reasons, and issuing yellow cards is completely subjective.
If the IHSA brass isn’t willing to change the rule, the association’s member schools should take it upon themselves to make it happen.
It’s their association, and their voice needs to be heard.
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