NIAA cancels Thursday’s prep sports in areas affected by smoke
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association cancelled all of Thursday’s prep sports in Northern Nevada areas affected by smoke on Wednesday at a press conference in Reno.
Eddie Bonine, director of the NIAA, spoke for about 25 minutes Wednesday to update the media about smoke conditions from the Rim and American fires in California.
Six counties — Washoe, Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Storey and Lyon — are all affected by the smoke and have cancelled all outdoor activities since last week.
A decision about Friday’s and Saturday’s action, though, will be made at 1 p.m. Thursday, according to Bonine.
“We have monitored, very closely, the situation,” he said.
The NIAA is using a grid, courtesy of the state of Idaho, determines the Air Quality Index (AQI) for a minimum standard guideline. AQI levels
The AQI, meanwhile, varies from county to county, Bonine said, while the NIAA will let each school district dictate whether outdoor activities should commence. Bonine added he has been in contact with his counterpart in California to determine safe practices for schools such as Truckee and South Tahoe.
“We are kind of in uncharted waters,” he said. “We would like to be the leader for this week.”
As for next week, Bonine said he will collaborate with each district’s administrators to determine whether play may or may not be suspended.
Naturally, one topic was on the impact of the smoke regarding scheduling. Bonine said teams in the affected areas can swap home dates with schools out of the smoke zone — for example, Truckee playing at Elko early in the season instead of Elko visiting Truckee — or schools can find neutral locations to move games and matches.
“We are going to take this thing a day at a time,” Bonine said. “The air quality changes.”
While the scheduling is yet to be totally overwhelmed, postseason implications are starting to surface. Bonine faced questions regarding the postseason and said if the smoke conditions continue into next week, the NIAA and school districts statewide will have to determine an appropriate course of action.
“We are not there yet,” Bonine responded.
In addition, Bonine discussed the conditioning of athletes, especially those in football, who have not been allowed to participate in full-contact drills for nearly one week. Cross-country and soccer teams have also been hindered.
The concern, Bonine said, is that clubs from the affected areas will not be properly conditioned to the nature of each sport. For example, the Sparks football team is scheduled to play at Elko on Sept. 6.
“Elko hasn’t missed a beat,” Bonine said. “So now we are concerned about the competitive balance.”
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