New Mexico high school sports try to plan amid uncertainty

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — High school athletic directors across New Mexico are actively seeking to obtain schedules for the 2020-21 school year amid a pandemic, uncertainty and fewer games.

The Albuquerque Journal reports school districts are waiting for each other to finish crafting basketball, soccer and volleyball schedules. Meets, tournaments and matches are up in the air.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Activities Association has eliminated regular-season tournaments and overnight travel for the upcoming school year.

“For the most part, when the (NMAA) announced (the calendar), everyone started calling, texting, emailing, trying to get games in every sport,” Rio Rancho High Athletic Director Vince Metzgar said.

There are inherent challenges embedded in this process. Which sports get their schedules filled first? Will schools play full, if paradoxically abbreviated, schedules? And if they do, how do programs cram in all the games they’d like to play given the tighter time window they’ve been given to play those schedules?

“Everyone is scrambling,” said Albuquerque Public Schools district Athletic Director Kenny Barreras.

The uncertainty comes as New Mexico saw Monday it's highest single-day confirmed coronavirus cases. The state has around 20,000 reported COVID-19 cases, according to the latest numbers.

In addition, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has asked New Mexico and New Mexico State to suspend fall contact sports.

Barreras’ staff at Albuquerque Public School unquestionably faces the most arduous assignment, since APS has 13 public high schools. Moreover, many other districts — like Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Los Lunas and Las Cruces — regularly maintain nondistrict scheduling relationships with APS.

“Other (schools) are jumping on whatever they can. They just can’t wait for anybody,” said Cleveland High Athletic Director Matt Martinez. “You can’t pick and choose.”

Rio Rancho Public Schools and Los Lunas Schools, both of which have two high schools, are planning to schedule full seasons. For 2020-21 only, “full” is defined as seven in football (down from 10). Basketball is down from 26 to 18. Baseball and softball are down from 26 to 20. Soccer is down from 20 to 14.

Even with fewer games translating into lower expenses, monetary concerns are on most everyone’s mind.

“We survive on bringing in $1.2 million in revenue, and now we have the potential of not seeing much, or any, of that,” Barreras said. “It will be a tremendous challenge, and I don’t have the answers.”


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