Some athletic directors are a little hot under the collar.
Others are just rolling with it.
But there’s little doubt the decision to suspend sports due to H1N1, or Swine Flu, is putting a kink in the end of the school year.
The New Mexico Activities Association announced Sunday it was suspending all athletic and activity programs for seven days due to swine flu-related closures at 15 schools in the state.
Carlsbad High School, Deming Intermediate School, all public schools in the Lordsburg districts and all public schools and a charter school in the Socorro district were ordered closed this week due to concerns over swine flu. There are no confirmed cases in any of the schools.
The first confirmed case of swine flu in New Mexico was confirmed over the weekend.
The victim is an 18-year-old Valencia County boy, who the state Department of Health said is home-schooled and is recovering.
On Monday, the state was awaiting word from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on whether 14 other cases were swine flu.
For smaller school districts such as Melrose schools, who hold a lot of end of year activities for students, the sports suspension has caused a strain, according to football and track coach Dickie Roybal, who is set to become Melrose High School’s athletic director next week.
The Class 1A and 2A state track meets were scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Albuquerque.
“I understand it’s precautionary, but I think it’s a big overreaction by officials,” he said. “Wash your hands and let’s go on — the kids were ready to go run this week. Track is tough for a lot of kids, and it’s usually right at the end of the year. They’re (students) feeling like this is just prolonging it. ... it’s just a bunch of hogwash.”
The NMAA said it made the decision because it wants to ensure fairness to those schools that are unable to compete, practice and participate in activities this week.
In addition to the suspension, schools are not allowed to hold organized practices outside of the school day, again, to prevent unfair advantages.
The NMAA said coaches found in violation of the ruling could face a $1,000 fine and probation for a year.
Clovis Schools Athletic Director Brian Stacy said the suspension will only become an issue if it goes on too long. He said a week is manageable.
“If it stays longer, we’re going to start having some problems,” he said. Among his concerns are facility availability, getting students back who have graduated and safety concerns for players who haven’t practiced consistently.
The ruling affects baseball, softball, golf, track and field and tennis as school athletes were preparing for district and state championships.
Roybal said his athletes will be lucky to get in 15 to 20 minutes of practice during their normal physical education periods.
Likewise, Alicia Rush, who doubles as athletic director for Grady High School and track coach, said the suspension comes at a time that disrupts her kids’ otherwise good momentum going into the state track meet.
Rush is concerned the suspension may stretch past the end of the school year. That, she said, will make things increasingly difficult for those who have graduated or had summer plans.
“It’s not a good situation. ... I feel sorry for the kids, I feel sorry for the seniors,” she said, explaining she’ll likely give her kids a rest until more is known about the schedule.
But at larger schools, such as Clovis, Portales and Texico, athletics departments are confident the season will end well. They are focused on figuring out what is going on and rescheduling travel plans and other mechanics that go along with sporting events.
“We’re still in limbo so we’re trying to do scheduling. It’s just a matter of we’re waiting on the association, nothing is solid,” said Greg Darden, director of athletics at Clovis Christian School.
“We’re just trying to make sure we get everything taken care of. ... when you really sit back and look at it, it’s not bad. We’ll be all right.”
And for Texico Athletic Director Keith Durham, he is confident his students will be fine and said, “I just have professional faith that all schools will abide by the rules and will not get an unfair advantage.”
Portales schools is one that has a built in period during the school day where students can practice.
“We actually do have an athletics period, so the kids are working out 45 minutes a day," said Mark McAfee, Portales High School athletics director.
In Dora, 15 students qualified for the state track meet. So far the school is not complaining about the decision.
“In order for it to be fair, I agree with what they're (the NMAA is) doing,” said school superintendent Steve Barron. If his schools were closed, he said he would want other schools to stop practices to give everyone a fair chance at a state title.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Jim Daugherty, Elida schools superintendent. Elida has two students qualified for the state track meet.
"I feel like if that's what the NMAA asks us to do, we will be glad to comply," Daugherty said.
Should the NMAA announce that the suspension has concluded by Friday, a “tentative” plan for State Championships events is as follows:
Track & Field
May 11 Class 3A-5A District Meets
May 13-14 Class A-AA State Championships
May 15-16 Class 3A-5A State Championships
May 11 State Baseball Championships First Round- Class 3A- 5A
May 11-12 State Baseball First Round and Quarterfinals- Class A-AA
May 14-16 State Baseball Championships- Class 3A-5A Quarterfinals/ Semifinals/ Finals
May 15-16 State Baseball Championships- Class A-AA Semifinals/ Finals
May 14-16 State Tennis Championships
Individuals (May 14)
Team (May 15-16)
May 11-12 Class A-AAA Golf State Championships (UNM Golf Course)
May 12-13 Class 4A Golf State Championships (New Mexico Tech Golf Course)
Class 5A Golf State Championships (New Mexico State Golf Course)
May 10 Softball Seeding/ Selection Meeting
May 14-16 State Softball Championships
Because the NMAA oversees the activity of rodeo, all practices and competitions are considered suspended.
Teams will be permitted to attend “national competitions” if the school administration permits the competition.
Banquets/ Awards Banquets:
Schools which are not closed by the PED are permitted to hold banquets and award ceremonies.
Schools which are not closed by the PED are permitted to hold school concerts, dances, etc.
Uniform Fittings/ Information Meetings:
Schools which are not closed by the PED and are scheduled to distribute information or try on uniforms (cheerleading) are permitted to do so.
Schools which are not closed by the PED are permitted to take school related field trips.
For more information pertaining to this announcement, please contact Robert Zayas, NMAA Director of Communications, at (505) 977-5386.