Even if there is to be a 2021 high school basketball season in New Mexico, it’s not going to begin the first week of January as currently scheduled.
New Mexico Activities Association executive director Sally Marquez said as much Monday when she described the Jan. 4 start date as “maybe unrealistic” in her weekly social media Q&A. She further hinted that the start of the overall prep calendar will undergo another delay, this time to February.
In an interview with the Journal late Monday afternoon, Marquez was somewhat more emphatic.
“I think a Jan. 4 start date will not happen,” she said.
The NMAA board of directors meets on Wednesday morning, at which point they will vote on a revised 2021 prep sports calendar.
Marquez said she has emailed the office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to talk about the Jan. 4 start date, “but we need to be proactive,” Marquez said, adding that her staff at the NMAA will present an option for the board.
“It would be a February start,” Marquez said. “How that will look? We’re still looking at that.”
The catch is the same one that’s existed for months — Lujan Grisham is going to have to green light high schools to return to action.
The NMAA had hoped to conduct all its sports in a rapid January-June window, starting with basketball and swimming in January. Football and soccer would start up in late February, while volleyball was shifted to early March and cross country to mid-February. The regular spring sports (plus wrestling, moved so as not to overlap with football) would finish in June.
To begin the 2021 sports calendar in February would further tighten an already condensed schedule, and it would likely shorten some regular seasons that already were being squeezed.
Marquez said the NMAA still wants every athlete to have their day.
“I’ve been saying this since the beginning,” she said.
In what order the sports will be contested in a new calendar, that is an unknown until the NMAA lays it out for the board on Wednesday.
The basketball season earlier this year already had been pushed from its traditional late autumn start to January, in deference to the novel coronavirus.
Jan. 4 had been established as the first day of practices, with games permitted late that week. Swimming/diving also was to begin on Jan. 4.
The last official high school game in New Mexico was the Class 5A boys basketball final at the Pit on March 14.
NOTES: The Wednesday meeting also will discuss realignment and classification issues, since every high school has seen reduced enrollment this year, Marquez said, which might impact future alignments. … Also under discussion Wednesday is the topic of game limitations, insomuch as sports like soccer and volleyball have hundreds of athletes who may have to decide between, or balance, high school and club.