On Thursday (July 9) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that contact sports scheduled for autumn will not be permitted, meaning sports like football and soccer will miss their regular season this fall.
"We made the following additional decisions [with] fall sports - no contact sports are going to be permitted this fall," Lujan Grisham said. "This has been a decision that we have been doing a fair amount of hand-wringing on, because sports are incredibly important to the individuals who play them.
"And we are clear about that - about the social behaviors, about the team-building, about the life lessons that are learned in playing sports and about the impact they have on the quality of life of the individuals playing, coaches and the families. But these contact sports are just too high risk."
Around the same time as the governor held her press conference, the New Mexico Activities Association sent out a press release stating that both football and soccer will be moved over to the spring semester. The NMAA later followed up with a video in which executive director Sally Marquez relayed a message of hope for student-athletes.
"Next week, we will release a plan that we have for football and soccer but also for all the other sports," Marquez said. "And until then, I ask: Stay positive, get your chin up, we are going to play again, New Mexico."
Dusty Young, associate director of the NMAA, said that "more information on plans for other sports" will be released next week around July 15, the same time this story goes to press.
Lujan Grisham said during her press conference that the fall season for contact sports may have a delayed start if "we work hard," in which she refers to New Mexicans taking more precautions - such as wearing masks in public - as new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the state. "I've got my fingers crossed," Lujan Grisham said.
The governor said that she was working in conjunction with the NMAA to help get the word out to coaches and players, but also to create standards going forward.
At press time (July 14), New Mexico is on its 12th consecutive day of COVID-19 cases above 200. However, New Mexico's transmission rate of spread has lessened since late June. After hitting a peak of 1.21, New Mexico, as of July 12, now has a transmission rate of 1.08 - close to the state's target of 1.05.
Other noncontact fall sports might be delayed, too, Lujan Grisham said. However, Lujan Grisham made it clear that no fall sports will happen this year if schools can't reopen.
"We have to do better and get this virus under control," she said.