Albuquerque Journal

‘2 strikes’ and you are out? Maybe

NMAA wants to bust bad behavior


The New Mexico Activities Associatio­n is on the verge of putting the hammer down on unruly behavior at high school sporting events.

It’s coming, for both participan­ts and fans.

At Wednesday morning’s NMAA board of directors meeting, one of the featured discussion items is going to revolve around what is likely to become known as the “2 Strikes” rule, designed to help arrest the increase in reprehensi­ble behavior/language at prep events — an issue that many believe is spiraling out of control.

“The plan is to institute some type of stronger discipline policy than just the ‘Compete With Class’ initiative we have now,” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said in an interview with the Journal.

The “2 Strikes” rule will essentiall­y read as follows, based on the language the NMAA board members will be presented Wednesday:

“Any time an egregious act of unsportsma­nlike conduct by a team participan­t, including a coach, occurs two or more times during the same season, at the same school, in the same activity, the team will be suspended from participat­ion in that activity for the remainder of the season.”

Item 2 in this proposal is the section that New Mexico prep fans had better get to know, and fast, because the potential consequenc­es could be severe.

“Any time an egregious act of unsportsma­nlike conduct by a non-team participan­t occurs two or more times during the same season, at the same school, in the same activity, the non-team member, along with all school spectators will be suspended from attendance in that activity for the remainder of the season.”

The message from the NMAA is clearly this: poor behavior by one could be penal to the collective.

“We have to send the message

that it is not OK to act out, it is not OK to verbally abuse officials, it is not OK to fight, it is not OK to cuss at opponents,” Marquez said. “We need to do better.”

Oklahoma, Louisiana and, most recently, Washington already have added versions of “2 Strikes,” and many states, like New Mexico, are joining the proverbial call to arms.

But New Mexico’s approach will differ from, say, Oklahoma’s, where both fans and participan­ts fall under the same umbrella. Marquez said New Mexico plans to separate the two.

“As a whole, we need to hold each other accountabl­e,” Marquez said. “If we have fans that are acting out, we need to hold them accountabl­e, because it’s going to impact all fans.”

Marquez said hostile fans or fan bases have been more the issue of late than players or coaches being overly aggressive. As such, the NMAA does not want “to hurt kids for what’s going on in the stands,” Marquez said, while adding that school administra­tions and officials must be active in policing their own fans.

“We’re not consistent from one school to the next,” Marquez said.

The “2 Strikes” initiative is expected to be an action (re: voting) item for the final NMAA board meeting of the school year, which is scheduled for June 1. Marquez said she expects it to be official NMAA policy when the 2023-24 school year begins.

Marquez said Oklahoma so far has had positive results; a message Tuesday to that state’s high school associatio­n leader, David Jackson, was not immediatel­y returned.

Marquez said NMAA member schools support a ramping up of penalties as the effort increases to curtail and/or modify behavior that is deemed to have crossed the line.

If a second strike is recorded against a fan base or a team when an individual sports season is at an end, penalties may be applied to the following season.

“New Mexico is different than a lot of states,” Marquez said. “We do not have pro sports or a Power 5 (college). … High school sports is king in New Mexico.”

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Sally Marquez

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