Football will be the first sport to get underway if the NMAA’s schedule for the spring is able to play out.
News-Bulletin file photo

With the New Mexico Activities Association’s announcement last week that the start of the sports season would be pushed to Feb. 1, 2021, it brought with it a completely reshuffled calendar featuring a move for winter sports into March, as well as championships split across two weekends.

It is also the last ditch effort from the NMAA in order to try and guarantee a season.

With COVID-19 case numbers in New Mexico still high and only one county in the state not currently in the red of the new county-by-county criteria for reopening set forth by the department of public health, Marquez and the board looked at their options and decided starting winter sports on Jan. 4 was not realistic, and to pre-emptively push back the start of those activities in order to avoid redrawing the calendar in a hurry when those sports are prevented from starting due to the public health order.

As of Dec. 15, the state public health order still bans competition, which was what prevented the fall season from occurring as scheduled in October. For any season to begin, that order would need to be adjusted by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who hasn’t addressed high school sports directly in a press conference since October.

The state has announced that all schools must begin second semester in remote learning in an effort to minimize spread following the travel that often comes with the holidays.

During that time, between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17, surveillance testing, where a random sample of a population, in this case, schools, is tested for the virus in order to find out how prevalent it is among that specific subset of people.

Currently, the NMAA allows workouts in pods of four athletes to one coach, but both Belen Consolidated Schools and Los Lunas Schools have halted workouts for the time being due to case numbers within the county. Workouts have been paused for both since early November, a move that was made in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday. Neither district has provided a timeline for when they plan to begin workouts again.

With the schedule reshuffling, many sports, such as track and field, had their championships split across two weekends in order to separate the small and large schools and minimize the number of people attending each event.

The season will kick off with football, which will begin practicing on Feb. 1.

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Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.