Some parents fired up over proposal on punishment for behavior at high school games

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new proposal has some Albuquerque parents fired up.

It would be an attempt to crack down on bad behavior in the stands at high school sports events in New Mexico. 

The board of the New Mexico Activities Association, which is the governing body for teams, voted in favor of new penalties for what it would call “egregious acts of unsportsmanlike conduct.” 

For parents or anyone else watching a sports team play, a referee or any official could decide they have committed a violation. The team would get a warning, and if anyone in the stands causes a second violation at any point during the season, then no one can watch that sports team play the rest of the year. 

It would mean two strikes and they are all out – no fans in the stands for that team. 

“It’s not fair to punish everybody because of individuals’ poor behavior,” said Chris O’Conner, the parent of a Valencia High School student-athlete. “Don’t make the rest of us pay for it, because it’s not fair.” 

Many parents told KOB 4 they do not want the rule. 

“I do believe there needs to be things done to control fans, but you can’t punish an entire group of people at a game for one person’s behavior,” said Jan Mosher, the parent of a La Cueva High School student-athlete. 

Some parents said they do see the up side. 

“I think it’s a good thing. I know we all get crazy at times. I’m guilty of that, but I think it’s gotten out of hand, so I feel like the NMAA or whoever is implementing it needs to step in and ensure the girls are safe, the refs are safe, our coaches are safe as well as the spectators who come,” said Latasia Dyer, the parent of a La Cueva High School student-athlete. 

Coaches like La Cueva High School Head Girls Basketball Coach Marisa Cogan are following the policy closely. 

“Ultimately, what we want is sportsmanship and our kids to be able to play. I just think it will be tricky to implement it,” she said. 

Cogan said she understands both sides of the issue.

“A lot of times parents are just really passionate and emotional about their kids sometimes when they’re going a little over the top,” Cogan said. “Sometimes, yes, there are circumstances when parents need to cool it.” 

She said she hopes teams would have the ability to appeal a decision. 

Under the proposal, there would also be a similar rule for players and coaches. If there are two violations within a season, then the NMAA would cancel the rest of the team’s season. 

In order for the policy to go into effect in the 2023-2024 school year, NMAA officials say the schools would have to vote in favor of it. They have a few weeks to decide.