Q. I am curious as to how high school sports opponents are determined. Looking at this Saturday's (Oct. 14) high school football summary -- I noticed two MAC teams traveled to Dubuque and one to Iowa City -- instead of playing against the more local teams. Doesn't this translate to increased travel costs for teams and their fans? Are these same opponents used for basketball schedules meaning winter weather PLUS travel costs? -- Karen, LeClaire

A. "This question is probably best answered by sports editor Matt Coss, who is our primary expert on Iowa high school sports, but it's a change that came about when Iowa went to district football for its largest enrollment classifications a few years ago. Under that system, our local teams are not grouped together into the same districts and instead are in districts with teams in Dubuque, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, etc. This is for football only. It does not apply to basketball and other sports." -- Don Doxsie

"Four years ago, Iowa went to a district football concept in Class 4A and since that time, schedules for all teams in the state both in and out of district have been determined by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. The concept has been used in Class A, 1A, 2A and 3A since the 1990s and it originated to help ease non-conference scheduling problems that a number of schools were facing. Administrators at the Class 4A level supported switching to the system four years ago, ending conference affiliations in the sport of football for all programs in the state. Every two years, districts are realigned. In Class 4A, Quad-City area schools will typically be paired with an assortment of schools from Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City in six-team districts. Playoff qualification is based on the results of district play. Schools do have some input on the other four opponents they face and if both schools request a non-district match-up, the IHSAA typically accommodates those requests. If that request isn’t made, the IHSAA completes the schedule on its own. New districts for football in all classes will be put together after the 2017 season. Scheduling in all other sports is handled differently. The schools, and the conferences they are members of, assemble those schedules. In sports such as basketball, schools are free to schedule whatever opponent they may want to play in non-conference games." -- Steve Batterson

"After the 2013 football season, the Iowa High School Athletic Association decided to do away with conference football for the Class 4A schools and adopt a district model. With that, the Quad-Cities schools starting playing teams from Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City during the regular season. This is just for football, not other sports. Every two years, the state changes the districts. So this winter, schools will be lumped in new districts for football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In terms of basketball, the Mississippi Athletic Conference is going from a 16- to 18-game conference schedule this season. It will be a true round-robin where every team plays each other twice (home and away). This will cut down on the number of winter trips to Iowa City, Cedar Rapids or Dubuque for non-conference games." -- Matt Coss

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email ask@qctimes.com or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.