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Copyright 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

For those of you hoping that New Mexico would initiate a retroactive video-as-punishment rule, it's almost certainly dead in the water.

New Mexico Activities Association associate director Dusty Young spent a couple of days in Indianapolis late last month at the National Federation of State High School Associations annual conference.

Young, at the behest of his boss, executive director Sally Marquez, was asked to do some recon with other state associations to see whether the video issue was on the front burner anywhere else.

"Honestly, I found that most state associations do not use video in any capacity after the fact, although there are a few states that use it as we do, as far as if there is a misapplication of a rule," Young said.

This topic, you may remember, gained legs in December when video appeared to show a Mayfield football player slugging a Cleveland football player in the jaw during a Class 5A state semifinal game. The Cleveland player, Sterling Napier, departed the game and did not return, and was later diagnosed to have a concussion.

The Mayfield player was not penalized, and the NMAA said it was powerless to do anything about it in the days that followed.

(As an aside, and to be completely fair, it is worth noting that on the first play of that Mayfield-Cleveland game, Napier is shown on film taking a very late run at Trojans quarterback Kavika Johnson, and hammered Johnson long after he handed the ball off. Whether the subsequent shot against Napier qualified as retribution is subject to debate.)

Young said he did not speak with every state representative at the conference, but sensed that the video topic has little momentum. Video, he added, can and has been used as it pertains to a large-scale fight or scrum, to help identify players who are involved, but there is no immediate push to use video to mete out other sorts of punishment that in-game officials fail to notice in the heat of action.

"Most states," Young said, "are happy with what we have in place and don't want to go down that road to use video to do any more than what it's doing. It's kind of a slippery slope as to where you draw the line."

Practice changes?

More significantly, New Mexico may be on the verge of following the lead of Texas and Alabama as it pertains to football practice schedules.

The subject of concussions, Young said, was the hot topic in Indiana and could have an impact on the way coaches conduct practices here, starting with the 2014 season.

"There is a push, as we speak, to try and start regulating the contact time - full contact and pads - during practices," Young said. "There are a lot of studies that show concussions occur just as much, if not more so, in practice than in game situations."

The NMAA at its June board meeting plans to introduce a proposal that would alter the rules.

Texas' rule, which went into effect last season, limits players to 90 minutes of contact per week once the season has begun. The rule did not include preseason practices or spring drills.

Obviously, the rule was instituted as a measure to help reduce the number of football-related concussions.

"It's something that we were looking at even before (the national) meeting," Young said. "Concussions are a major issue when it comes to all sports, especially football."

There will be extensive discussions with New Mexico's schools before any proposal is laid out before the board of directors.

"We definitely are looking to put something in place by next school year," Young said.

New Mexico does not, at present, have any rule governing contact.

"It's very generic," Young said. "That's one reason we're looking at it."

Realignment update

When schools in December had a chance to appeal their placement in a classification or a district, only one - Pecos - had an argument that the NMAA felt warranted further examination.

The Panthers won their appeal and will compete in District 2-3A instead of 6-3A starting in 2014-15.

The NMAA had aligned Pecos into 6-3A with Estancia, Laguna Acoma and the Native American Community Academy, making for extensive travel. District 2, Pecos argued, was more logical.

District 2 was clearly the better fit, as Pecos has been grouped with nearby schools Santa Fe Prep, Monte del Sol, Desert Academy and the Academy for Technology and the Classics (ATC).

The NMAA heard 17 appeals in December, covering 18 schools. Los Lunas and Valencia presented as one.

And those two are not done fighting.

They have taken their battle to the Public Education Department, hoping that the PED will step in and reverse the NMAA's decision to place those two Valencia County schools in a travel-intensive district that includes Centennial, Santa Teresa and Chaparral from southern New Mexico.

District athletic director Wilson Holland said his concerns begin with student safety and missed class time, followed by the cost factor. In the new realignment, no two schools will travel more miles than Los Lunas and (especially) Valencia.

The three southern schools in that district are all at least 200 miles from the village of Los Lunas. Belen is also in that league.

The district dispatched a letter to the PED and has yet to hear back, Holland said. In the meantime, he added, both schools' schedules for next fall are ready to go should the PED decline to intervene.

Young said the NMAA would have no comment on the Los Lunas/Valencia situation.


February 10, 2014


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