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New Mexico cheerleading contest may end over sportsmanship

This 2018 photo shows competition at the New Mexico State Spirit Championships at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. The 2020 statewide high school cheerleading and dance competition may be terminated thanks to a rash of terrible sportsmanship.
This 2018 photo shows competition at the New Mexico State Spirit Championships at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. The 2020 statewide high school cheerleading and dance competition may be terminated thanks to a rash of terrible sportsmanship. Roberto E. Rosales

A high school sports governing board is considering canceling next year's State Spirit Competition following death threats and inflammatory social media posts, the Albuquerque Journal reports .

Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, said she will present options including cancelling the event at the group's meeting next month.

"Right now, spirit is not abiding by what we believe are education-based athletics," Marquez said. "This year was probably the worst out of all of them." Various parents, athletes, coaches and other outside parties all are contributing to an inappropriate social media presence, Marquez said.

The state competition, which encompasses female cheer, co-ed cheer and dance, is the third-largest money-making postseason event on the high school calendar, after basketball and football. This year's competition featured 106 dance and cheer squads, and approximately 2,000 athletes.

But the event has been plagued with sportsmanship issues.

According to officials, a direct death threat was made to two people who were helping the governing staff with this year's state spirit competition late last month. It was not known if the two people who received the death threat have pressed, or will press, charges.

In addition, officials said there were aggressively worded social media posts, and their negative impact on coaches and athletes alike, contributed to the governing board calling a special meeting last week.

But Carlos Abeyta, a cheer coach at Albuquerque's Del Norte High School, said specific schools should be targeted rather than the whole event.

"My suggestion is (to) suspend (the offending) schools for a year," Abeyta said. "If it was my own kids, suspend me for a year."

The State Spirit Competition isn't the only sport causing sportsmanship headaches for the governing board. Earlier this year, the association warned Estancia High School over rowdy fans. Carlsbad High School also imposed crowd restrictions after improper behavior from student fans.

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