Editor's Note: This story was published in the July 9th print edition of the Taos News. It was announced by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that same day that fall contact sports would not be permitted.
I can only feel for the kids who are readying up for a fall sports season – whether it is football, volleyball, cross-country or even soccer.
Because right now, the future is grim.
With professional leagues planning for a restart or the beginning of a new season, players have been testing positive for COVID-19.
Recently, Major League Soccer announced that players from Atlanta United, the Colorado Rapids and Nashville SC have had players test positive for the novel coronavirus. The season restart was scheduled for July 8 in Orlando.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported last week that there were positive tests in both the Milwaukee Bucks’ and Los Angeles Clippers’ parties that are traveling to Orlando for the NBA season restart – which is just days away. Both teams shut down their practice facilities to prevent further spread.
And while the New Mexico Activities Association doesn’t take advice or follow suit with the professional sports leagues, the influence of a shutdown of a professional sports season will be impossible to ignore.
To add onto that, the NMAA still has practices in the phase one stage, meaning that players are still confined to workouts that take away from potential skill development. The NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said it won’t start its phase two plans until Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham readies the state for phase two.
July 15 is the day we should hear more about phase two for the state, Lujan Grisham said last week. But the time between now and then can fluctuate so much not only for the state at large, but also or the future of fall sports.
It is also of concern that, since the beginning of June, we have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases statewide. On July 4, the state recorded the second highest single-day high in cases at 281. It is expected that the daily number of cases may rise, as the holiday weekend saw plenty of people in large gatherings.
Bordering states such as Texas and Arizona have seen record highs in cases on what seems like a daily basis.
While I would be happy to see a season start as a sports journalist, the health and safety of those participating come first. And while I am sure most student-athletes are in favor of starting the season, they must understand that they are operating under circumstances we have never seen before in our lifetime.
Sure, the NBA, MLB and MLS are all planning on playing under the distress of the novel coronavirus. But most are doing so in the confines of an uber-protected bubble, which we have seen hasn’t exactly halted the spread of the virus itself.
This virus doesn’t mess around – and it doesn’t care who it attacks. Just last week I started to get symptoms of COVID-19 – I had extreme body fatigue, a sore throat and a fever – even though I hardly go anywhere – home and the store, with the occasional foray to get takeout. So I did the responsible thing and went and got tested.
Luckily, I tested negative but the fear was alive and well.
Teams practicing here in Taos were told on July 4 that practices would be suspended, pending an investigation of “possible protocol infractions.” The school board will meet on July 23 to determine if practices should resume.
Now imagine the NMAA trying to handle possible cases during an ongoing season – and think about how it might respond.
For now, it might be in the best interest of everybody to be cautious in this pandemic because it isn’t going away anytime soon. The NMAA would be smart to take into consideration that this is the new world, and that canceling the fall season might, in fact, help curb any future spread.
It just sucks that things have to happen this way.