The prep football season is over, but it remained a topic of conversation Thursday at the New Mexico Activities Association’s latest board of directors meeting.
There was a bit of a two-pronged discussion Thursday – one focused on the quality of facilities that are hosting playoff games, and another (and lesser) give-and-take about whether higher seeds should possibly be allowed to start hosting postseason games in every round and not just through the quarterfinals.
That second item didn’t have much traction Thursday.
“It’s two-fold,” said NMAA associate director Dusty Young, the organization’s point man for football. “From the community side, the spectator side, the higher seed issue is in the forefront. From the schools’ side, it’s more the facility issue.”
Young said the majority of schools do not want to deviate from the current format in which past history dictates who hosts semifinals and championship games. He added, more coaches have been vocal in the last couple of years about certain sites “not meeting the caliber of the facility of a championship game.”
NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said there are a couple of examples – she declined to specify locations – of schools hosting state playoff games at venues that were simply not up to a standard. She cited heating issues, a lack of ADA compliance and having portable restrooms that aren’t easily accessible as examples of issues.
“Something needs to be done with some of the facilities,” she said.
Marquez said one option in the future is moving a playoff game to a more appropriate field that is as near to the hosting school as possible – if it is determined that the host team’s facility is substandard.
Secondarily, Marquez admitted that her office had heard some negative feedback from communities about the NMAA’s playoff format, especially this year. On the season’s final day, the higher seed was traveling in all four championship games (Classes 3A-6A), although in one of those four, it was Cleveland High in Rio Rancho traveling to Albuquerque. Jal, the No. 1 seed in 2A, also had to travel for its championship game.
“How do we explain to (players’) parents why their team is traveling?” Marquez said. “The complaints, they come back to us. Which is OK, but we don’t know how to combat it.”
Is change imminent? Probably not. But there might be movement on taking away a true home game from someone if a venue lacks the proper amenities.
“This is the most talked about it has ever been (since I’ve been at the NMAA),” Marquez said.
As for the NMAA’s “past history” template, it has long generated a spirited back-and-forth. For example, when No. 1 Artesia met No. 5 Deming in the Class 5A semifinals two weeks ago, the game was in Deming. Why? Because the last time the schools met in the semis or later, it was in Artesia – in the mid-1970s.
FOOTBALL ATTENDANCE: About 4,500 tickets were sold for the Cleveland-La Cueva Class 6A title game last Saturday at Wilson Stadium, Young said Thursday.
The total was approximately 3,700 for Artesia-Piedra Vista at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington for the 5A final, roughly 2,000 tickets for the Silver-at-Bloomfield 4A championship game, and 1,800 for the Ruidoso-St. Michael’s 3A final at Ivan Head Stadium at Santa Fe High. But there were roughly 14,000 fewer tickets sold to the state football playoffs this year than last year, mostly because of decreases in the larger divisions.
ALSO: Among the action items the NMAA board voted to approve Thursday was a tweak to the state baseball format. Instead of the higher seed being the home team in just the quarterfinal round, the higher seed now gets to have the last at-bat in the semifinals and championship game, as well.
A coin flip used to decide the last team up in the semis and the final.