The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the state’s governing body for prep sports, specifically its Executive Director Eddie Bonine, said Wednesday afternoon all outdoor athletic activities are cancelled Thursday because of the poor air quality. The fate of Friday’s local season-opening football games will be made Thursday at 1 p.m.
“We’ll make the same determination and look for maybe some wind to come up, something to clear things out, if not we will be looking to make the same rendering,” Bonine said.
However, if the NIAA green lights outdoor athletics for Friday, the six school districts affected by the smoke (Douglas, Carson, Lyon, Churchill, Storey and Washoe) will have the ability to make their own decisions.
Brian Rothe, the Washoe County School District coordinator of athletics and activities said if the Air Quality Index is 101 or greater, district schools scheduled to play locally will not compete Friday night.
“That is the level that is unsafe for specific groups. Again, specific groups are present in our athletic teams as are any other school population,” Rothe said.
The AQI was listed at 176 in Reno Wednesday afternoon on www.airnow.gov, the site the NIAA is using to monitor air quality in the area. Any AQI within the range of 151-200 is recognized as “unhealthy” by the NIAA and children are encouraged to stay indoors.
NIAA Assistant Director, Donnie Nelson, said the potential cancellation of Washoe County games alone could cost his office anywhere between $2,000-$2,500. Schools that play on the season-opening Hall-of-Fame weekend must pay the NIAA a $500 fee.
“There is a financial implication to a great many people,” Nelson said. “They (the schools) are losing snack bar money, losing gate money. That’s tough for officials, football officials in particular. There’s a limited number of games they work. A lot of them count on those working paychecks to help supplement their income.”
Financial consequences aside, Nelson made a clear point that more than dollars and cents are being taken into consideration.
“At the same time with all that said, obviously the health and well being of our student athletes, our coaches, our officials and even our families and friends who attend games, that is priority number one.”
Adding yet another piece to the scattered puzzle is the fact outdoor teams in the area have been pushed to practice inside by the smoke and may not be physically ready for games.
“I’m not so sure that they are ready to participate. Specifically the contact sport of football,” Bonine said. “I’m not a runner, you can tell by looking at me, but there are people who can run five miles on a treadmill and it is not the same as running three and a half outdoors and maybe those cross country kids aren’t ready to run yet.”
Because all football games scheduled for Friday are non-league meetings, Bonine was reluctant to talk about playoff implications but did admit if the situation lasts into next week, when league meetings start, the situation would need to be addressed.
With Wednesday’s announcement and the poor air conditions reaching now into the second week, Reed has already given up its home game Friday and will travel to Foothill for the second consecutive year. Foothill is in Palo Cedro, Calif, outside of Redding. Spanish Springs is looking for different accommodations to fit its Friday game in with Bishop Manogue. However, Sparks’ coach Rob Kittrel said he is not seeking an alternative playing site if games are canceled tomorrow.
In the case a makeup game needs to be played, NIAA rule requires that teams have at least five days off between games. Nelson said teams could play on a Monday and again on the following Saturday.