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Governor: No sports until 2021

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Thursday afternoon, school superintendents, principals, coaches and athletes of Roswell and Chaves County waited with hope, anxiety and anticipation for 30 minutes during New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s livestreamed press conference to view the slide presentation that left viewers stunned: “No sports in 2020.”

It has been 215 days since the last athletic competition in New Mexico, which is one of four states that has not played a high school athletic contest yet. The others are California, Washington state and Hawaii.

“I don’t want New Mexicans to think there is not empathy and compassion,” Lujan-Grisham said, “and a real understanding of the frustration of the families have about the limitation in our ability to support the youngest family members particularly with sports. There is a number of studies around the world, but certainly in this country, that shows there are physical fitness, mental health and awareness, and acuity issues that actually help students learn self-esteem issues.

“The social benefits help them learn to work in groups and teams, and social benefits. There is any number of incredible evidence-based issues related to making sure that our kids and even adults have access to team sports in any number of ways.”

Lujan-Grisham went on to talk about what the public health order has always said. That alerting New Mexicans that when we introduced a little risk and when they give as little as they need to. We have these guardrails that somehow it gets miscommunicated to many of us and then we have a reliance on that miscommunication and significant disappointment.

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“I’m very sorry for that disappointment,” Lujan-Grisham said. “I do want to take us back, too, to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The state is not updating its public health order. In fact, we didn’t update the public health order to ever permit youth or K-12 games or competition this fall. We were very clear about that. We didn’t amend the order (and) that includes club sports. Our priority is to get our kiddos back into the classroom and we have been very clear about that.”

Roswell Independent School District athletic director Britt Cooper heard the news and remains optimistic for the winter semester. Cooper along with the New Mexico Activities Association will work to adjust the schedule for all of the sports to play, starting in January through June.

Athletes are still eligible to continue working out in the pods as they have been.

“We look forward to January,” Cooper said, “and the NMAA’s goal is to play all sports this year. We’re hoping to play all sports as well.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.