New Mexico Activities Association approves rules for football, sets start date for games

Matthew Asher, Carlsbad Current-Argus

The New Mexico Activities Association is ready for all high schools in the state to prepare for the shortened fall sports season — unanimously approving an updated addendum for football practice regulations during Wednesday's Board of Directors meeting.

Football teams would be allowed to begin practices on Feb. 22 and would have the first week of football games scheduled for March 4.

The addendum for practice regulations will only apply to this season. 

In other years, football players would’ve had to complete at least eight practices before they can participate in a full contact scrimmage and 10 practices before they can participate in a game. This year, the eight practices will be required to play in games rather than scrimmages.

Practices will require that players have a four-day acclimation period, with two days in helmets followed by two days in helmets and shoulder pads (known as a shell). Once the four days are completed, players can then suit up in full pads.

The NMAA restricts full contact, which it defines as "football drills or live game simulations where 'live action' occurs,” to no more than 30 minutes per player each day with a maximum of 120 minutes the first week of practices.

The second and following weeks, the time allowed for full contact or live action drills will be dropped to 30 minutes under the assumption a team is playing a game that week. 

NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said the coaches will self-regulate the practice limits.

The other two items voted on were regarding student eligibility for both winter semester graduates and transfer students due to COVID-19.

The Board voted 10-2 in favor of allowing seniors who graduated in December 2020 to play high school sports in the spring, as long as the student is in the same home setting as they were while attending school.

T.J. Parks of Hobbs and Lee White of Loving voted against the item.

The Board also voted 9-2 in favor of limiting "all transfers for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year unless the student establishes a bona fide residence in a non-adjoining district.”

The bylaw seeks to prevent a "mass exodus" of students from one school if it is not participating in sports in joining another school which could also affect school classifications. Daniel Benavidez of Central Consolidated School District and Travis Dempsey of Gadsden voted against the item.

The next NMAA Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for June 2.

Matthew Asher covers sports for the Carlsbad Current-Argus. He can be reached at 575-628-5524, or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.

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