Even though a referendum by the New Mexico Activities Association to move up the football calendar by one week beginning in 2018 was overwhelmingly approved by the membership (66 of 73 schools voted for the change) few weeks ago, divergent views on the issue remain.
Under the proposal, the 2018 football regular season will begin in mid-August with the state championship games set for Thanksgiving weekend. In addition, the basketball calendar was pushed back two weeks to mid-November (yet to be determined is how the shift affects when the season begins), thereby significantly reducing the overlap between the two sports and the number of teams affected.
Manzano football coach Chad Adcox favors the change in the calendar for both sports.
“I’m more than ecstatic about it,” Adcox told NMPreps.com recently. “I am so tired of losing good athletes because they are more basketball kids than football kids. But they are still good athletes. But they don’t want to play football (in November) because they don’t want to miss a month of basketball practice.”
The overlap between football and basketball will be one week for schools that lose in the semifinals of the state playoffs in their classification, a couple of weeks for the two teams that square off in the championship game.
While not necessary a widespread problem at the varsity level, Adcox said some younger athletes at the freshmen and JV level have left football right at the beginning of basketball practice in early November.
“They say, ‘Coach, JV season is over, I’m going to basketball,” Adcox said. “They don’t stick around for the finish of the varsity season. I’ve never had that happen at the varsity level, but I know there are kids that won’t play varsity football because they don’t want to miss varsity basketball, which is their sport. But they are still great athletes that we could do something with, but they don’t play because they would miss so much (basketball).”
The new calendar will allow athletes at most schools to seamlessly switch from football to basketball without missing any practices in the latter sport. Really, just the four teams reaching the semifinals in mid-November will be impacted.
“If you go that far (semifinals), it’s a one week overlap,” Adcox said. “Now, 90 percent of the time, kids can go out for basketball without missing any football time. That will help define a true fall season going into the winter season and we’re not making kids choose sports.”
Cleveland coach Heath Ridenour offers the opposite view of the calendar change. He dislikes starting football season one week earlier in the middle of August.
“I don’t like it,” Ridenour told NMPreps. “It just takes away another week of summer. Two-a-days already takes a week of our summer and now they’re going to move it again and take another week of our summer. I understand what they’re doing with basketball, but I don’t think starting football in the middle of July (is the right decision).”
While the back end of the football calendar benefits from the lessened overlap with basketball, Ridenour feels football is paying a heavy price at the front end. Next year, preseason camps will likely have to begin around July 24 to give teams adequate time to prepare for the season openers.
“I don’t think that’s best for our sport, but when you’re talking about multi-sport athletes, those kids are being helped the most,” Ridenour said.
The NMAA should announce the 2018 football calendar soon as far as the first allowable date for practice and opening weekend.