Is a High School Athlete’s Gesture to God Worth a Disqualification?

Columbus High School athlete Derrick Hayes ran the anchor leg for his track team’s 4 x 100-meter relay. Last week, he helped win the race that would have qualified his team for the state tournament… but tournament officials said he broke the rules and wouldn’t be allowed to move on.

His violation?

As Hayes crossed the finish line in first, he “put his hand by his ear and just pointed to the heavens,” Hayes’ father said.

Officials ruled that the gesture violated a state scholastic rule against excessive celebration, which includes raising one’s hands. The team was disqualified, and barred from competing at the state championships.

Totally unfortunate. Not a way you want to end your season. Hayes probably knew the rules but didn’t think his display was excessive (hell, professional athletes do it when they score a few points, much less win a game). I haven’t seen any video of his gesture, so it’s hard to say how “excessive” it really was, but let’s assume it was clearly a violation.

Let’s get one thing straight: It wasn’t religious discrimination. They didn’t punish him for being Christian, like news reports are suggesting. They punished him for making a celebratory gesture, period.

The University Interscholastic League, which runs the state track meet, made this clear in their official statement:

The meet official indicated the athlete crossed the finish line and gestured upward with his arm and finger and behaved disrespectfully toward meet officials, in their opinion. In the judgment of the official, this was a violation of NFHS track & field rule 4-6-1. The regional meet referee concurred with this decision and the student was subsequently disqualified. There is no indication that the decision was made because of any religious expression. This was a judgment call, as are many decisions of meet officials in all activities.

According to NFHS rules, once the meet is concluded, the results become final. Neither the UIL nor NFHS have rules that prohibit religious expression.

Based on the rules, which don’t say anything about “excessive celebration,” it seems like the punishment may have been less about the gesture and more about a possible overreaction to getting called out on it.

What the state needs to do is modify its policy and clarify what is and isn’t allowed. Based on the current rulebook, it’s hard to tell that a religious gesture wouldn’t be allowed. The rule is vague and such an important call should be as non-subjective as possible.

Or I suppose they could just tell kids not to have any fun at all after a victory… Believe it or not, there’s a difference between a victory celebration and bad sportsmanship.

Give this story a couple days, though. You’ll see conservative websites using it as evidence that the world is turning against Christianity.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bob Becker

    Hard to say anything, one way or the other, without film of what happened. That said, the “no celebration” rules can reach ridiculous levels. May be what happened in this case.

    • SecularPatriot

      Yeap.

      But what is going to be done about it? Call me a cynic or a pessimist, but I really think that the rule will remain in place and people will ask for a religious exemption to be written in.

      • Mario Strada

        Then you can be sure that you will start seeing “sacred” dances in the end zone and eventually they will have to ban any expression of victory of any kind.

        I was a ranked Tennis player and we never had much restriction in the way we celebrated, but I have seen these rules in action when my daughter was in high school and while they seem excessive, I have also seen what the little monsters are capable of under the guise of “celebrating”.

        I think it’s actually sad that there have to be rules on a victory celebration. But since parent are often worse than their kids when it comes to sportsmanship, the officials had to institute these rules to avoid brawls and endless arguments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523906651 Chas Swedberg

    “and behaved disrespectfully toward meet officials, in their opinion.”

    Whatever that action was, it seems to be the crux of the matter.

    • JET

      My son played sports from kindergarten through college, always under no excessive celebration rules as an attempt to teach them something about good sportsmanship. Celebrating a victory with hugging, piling on, high fives, butt slaps, and even carrying a player off the field high in the air was allowed. Making derogatory gestures or statements toward the other team or the officials was not. Generally speaking, the officials were good at sensing the difference and very good at seeing which finger a boy was using. We don’t see here what this young man’s hands were doing but the officials did. I have a feeling this had nothing to do with religion and a lot to do with an attempt to send a message to the officials or the other team.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      “it seems to be the crux of the matter.”

      I see what you did there.

  • BamaJack

    This is the kind of stuff I like because it shows just how bat-crazy and radical the atheist left really is. Nazi, nazi, nazi’s…. everywhere you look there’s a hating atheist nazi police…

    • pauleky

      Really? Because what you just posted doesn’t reek of hate, at all…

    • McAtheist

      That didn’t take long to get to Mr. Schicklegruber.

      • BamaJack

        Really no good way for you guys to spin this. You’re screwed. Haters , haters, haters…. bwwwahahahahaaa.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Uh, dude, you best look in a mirror. You’re projecting so hard you’re about to start showing PowerPoint.

          And the gloating over your perceived superiority doesn’t help you either. But whatever.

    • http://twitter.com/Regcarolmoore Regina Carol Moore

      I think you misunderstood the entire article. I’m pretty sure the author’s point is that the team getting disqualified for such a petty gesture is ridiculous. But also, the team didn’t get disqualified for acting religious, but for celebrating at all. What’s wrong with celebrating a win? Nothing. The rule is wrong, but not because it discriminates against the religious. It discriminates against students for being human.

      • BamaJack

        We all know the atheists true agenda, and that is to eradicate Christianity. It’s sad enough as it is, without having to pick on young kids who are competing who’ve been working their tails off and setting goals. And by the way, these ARE kids.

        • Lee Miller

          No, actually, the atheist agenda is not to eradicate Christianity. It’s to eradicate stupidity, and that requires the eradication of all irrational religious belief (and all religious belief is irrational since it’s about nonexistent/invisible/unverifiable things.) I’m an equal opportunity atheist: all religion is bad, and it all needs to go.

          • BamaJack

            See…. told you so….

            • Kinky F.

              what? all the “Waffle House”‘s closed today?

        • Carmelita Spats

          I’m atheist and a professional giggler and I DO NOT want to eradicate Christianity. Christianity is by far the funniest religion on the planet and it gave us glorious MORMONISM!!! What other religion offers the comedian a deliciously dickish three-in-one-god who was his own Father? What other religion has a “virgin” breeding with a Space Ghost who then inseminates her capacious vaginal dimensions, hairy legs spread wide, with His black cosmic goo (Holy Spirit Jizz) so that He can sacrifice Himself to Himself? What other religion has a god impregnating a teenager so that premarital sex can be forgiven? What other religion allows manly men to open wide for the “non-gay” act of receiving a mouthful of Savior on Sunday? What other religion gives people a soggy communion experience? It’s DELIGHTFUL cannibalism! I say, KEEP, Christianity! Without Christianity, we wouldn’t have this nervy rendition of “Mary’s Fling”
          Praise!

          • BamaJack

            You mad bro?

          • Charles Honeycutt

            A professional giggler? Are you certified? Are you available for parties?

        • dcl3500

          Oh no, eliminating christianity would take away a big part of the fun in my life, so color me in the non-eliminating crowd, troll.

          Oh and I held the state 2 mile record when I ran in high school, beat out a hell of a lot you bible thumpers on the way to that record too.

          And in regards to whoever posted about some international atheist hand gesture…. Why the hell do we not share these things? I just use the international flip the bird symbol most of the time, but obviously that has been co-opted by sectarians too !

          • BamaJack

            Liar…. world-class athletic runner on the internet, eh?

            • dcl3500

              Hardly world class, but I was good. I knew of, in 1983, of at least 20 runners in other states that could beat my time, and I was still an atheist, and honest about it too. So no, I certainly would not have classed myself as a world class runner, and I won’t even accept that distinction from you.

        • kaydenpat

          Yes, atheists want to eradicate Christianity. Right.
          /snark.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Ah, yep. Didn’t take long for the martyrbating to come out.

          Get help. It’s a lot nicer out here in reality. You’ll be happier once you realize that only in your head is everyone out to get you.

      • lorimakesquilts

        The team didn’t get DQ’d, they didn’t qualify to advance because the guy was DQ’d.

    • NewDawn2006

      Why do you assume the officials are atheists? Do you have evidence? Wait. Stupid question…

      PS Commas are your friend.

      • dcl3500

        LOL evidence, oh that is a rich one! ;)

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      Uh, “leftists” and nazis are the complete opposite on the political spectrum. But I’m sure you already knew that.

      • Billy Bob

        You must not have read the hardcore right dictionary:

        leftist. noun. anyone who isn’t a batshit insane loon

      • Mario Strada

        I wouldn’t bet on it. A lot of conservatives are trying to equate the left with the Nazis. In fact I recall watching a video where some giant troll (might have been Glenn Beck) was trying to make the point that Nazis and socialist were the same thing. Probably because of all that “National Socialist” thing.

        Of course, for us Europeans it is eminently ludicrous. In italy we lived with Fascism and even when it was officially banned a lot of politicians just renamed themselves (but nobody was fooled).

        No one with a basic education would make that mistake.
        But for these people it’s not so easy because they grew up in a simplistic society comprised of just “good Vs. Evil”. Since communism = Evil and Nazi = Evil, then clearly Communism = Nazi. As far as the socialists, I doubt they really know what differentiate it from Communism, but I would first concentrate on the left = nazi thing as it is easier and requires less neurons (although apparently too many for our troll du Jour)

    • RobMcCune

      The crazy just speaks for itself.

    • Billy Bob

      Can’t tell if troll or irredeemably stupid.

      • RobMcCune

        Those aren’t mutually exclusive, oh and don’t forget to throw hateful, anti-social personality into the mix.

      • Artor

        Both.

  • Savoy47

    What if he just raised his fist? Same gesture but minus the extended index finger. How do we know it’s a religious gesture and not an “I’m number one” gesture?

    • Billy Bob

      We don’t. That’s the point. The problem is, the religious right in this country is convinced that the forces of secularism are infringing on their rights(not allowing them to shove their religion where it doesn’t belong), and they want it to be a religious gesture so they can fuel their persecution fantasies.

    • Randay

      In the 1968 Olympic Games, the 1st and 3rd in the 200 meter race, Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos were excluded for raising a hand in a fist.

      Wiki–”All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia’s White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.[5] Sociologist Harry Edwards,
      the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games;
      reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on 16 October 1968[2] were inspired by Edwards’ arguments.[6]

      Both U.S. athletes intended on bringing black gloves to the event,
      but Carlos forgot his, leaving them in the Olympic Village. It was the
      Australian, Peter Norman, who suggested Carlos wear Smith’s left-handed glove. For this reason, Carlos raised his left hand as opposed to his right, differing from the traditional Black Power salute.[7] When “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed, a gesture which became front page news around the world. As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd.[8]Smith later said, “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But
      if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black
      and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we
      did tonight.”[3]

      They were expelled by Nazi sympathizer Avery Brundage, one of the most disgusting figures in sports.

  • Billy Bob

    Saw this on US Message Board yesterday. Tried to explain that it wasn’t religious discrimination and why, but of course, the Christians that get a hard on from being “persecuted”(read: not allowed to do whatever they want) would have none of it and they responded with insults and ad hominem attacks(“Of course you would say that. You’re an atheist!”)

    At least a few Christians there realized it had nothing to do with him being a Christian.

  • RomIsHere

    Without video or more information anything about this is speculation. We don’t know how they acted to the officials after they were DQ’d.

  • mucopurulent

    This will be on Fox, you betcha

    • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

      You better believe it will. Nice big headline and a bunch of halfwit talking heads flapping their gum’s about the rights of the religious and how anyone who disagrees should be burned at the stake.

  • Tainda

    That’s BS. We’re raising a bunch of pansies when you can’t celebrate a win for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

    Now if he had gotten into someone’s face and taunted them, that’s an entirely different matter.

    • Drew M.

      Yeah, I don’t understand the whole, “no excessive celebrations,” policies.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        You must not have seen any. They can get pretty obnoxious. This one, however, doesn’t sound anything like “excessive.”

    • Houndentenor

      Agreed. So long as the gesture wasn’t rude or mean-spirited, I don’t know why it’s a problem or why such a rule exists in the first place. it’s very exciting to win. That energy needs to go somewhere. “Yay I won” is not rude. “You’re a big loser because I won” on the other hand should be discouraged. Acting like winning isn’t a big deal so as not to make other people feel bad? Guess what, your life is going to consist of victories and failures. You’re going to have to sit stoically and smile and applaud when your coworker gets the promotion you wanted. There’s no reason we shouldn’t learn those lessons as children. All this oversensitivity is just setting these children up for stress and anxiety as adults because they are not equipped to deal with what can be very competitive and stressful work environments. Rather than avoid reality, why not teach children to deal with it in constructive ways.

  • Rain

    If he was thanking God, then that means he thinks God likes him better than the other runners. That would be devastating for his religious beliefs, because if God likes him better and helped him to win, then God would have helped him to not be disqualified. Since that didn’t happen, then his religious beliefs are disproved–so he now will become an atheist, and so will everyone else in his religion too. Oh well, at least they had a good time for approximately 2000 years or so. Too bad it has to end this way on such a sad note.

    • BamaJack

      THIS, is why I love for you idiot left atheists to keep talking. Dig dig dig baby…

      • Attias

        Im pretty sure he was being sarcastic or facetious, and if he wasn’t then your reply made you look like just as big of an asshole anyway

        • Randay

          You don’t expect a faith-head to have a sense of humor nor to understand difficult words and ideas(for them)like “sarcastic” and “facetious”, do you?

      • Attias

        After reading your other comments it’s quite obvious that you are a troll, so just disregard my first comment to you, I have no interest in engaging with a troll

      • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

        Wow, grammar much.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          Uh-oh, uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh / Uh-oh, uh-oh “here come the gammar”

      • Kinky F.

        Score another one for the American Public School System.

        And after that score, I am not giving any celebratory gesticulations or such – I plan on moving to the next round.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Keep insulting people for the mere act of not agreeing with you. It’s totally wining people over to your side. It’s really NOT just making us all think “Yip, typical asshat right-wing Christer.”

      • Bad_homonym

        Don’t like logical flaws being pointed out?

  • C Peterson

    Certainly, the policy is questionable. But as you say, there’s nothing about its implementation here that suggests any religious discrimination was involved, or that anybody’s religious liberty was infringed upon. Indeed, if any sort of “celebratory” gestures are forbidden, it would be religious discrimination if the gesture in this case was allowed. Of course, that would be the sort of discrimination (i.e. “privilege”) that so many religious people seem to have no problem with.

    (From the description, I don’t think I would have identified the gesture as having any religious context, until I was told so explicitly.)

    • Nate Frein

      This is pure speculation, but you’re right. From the description there’s nothing overtly religious about the action.

      I kinda wonder (pure speculation here) if the student called it a religious gesture only after he got called out for it.

      • Randay

        Yeah, I agree. I have seen many athletes in different sports putting a hand to their ears to get crowd enthusiasm. Pointing to the sky is also common and might well be just a “we’re number 1″ signal. I don’t see, from the description, how he insulted one or more officials.

  • Ian Whatley

    There is also debate amongst track and field officials as to the gesture. It has been suggested that the athelete had his thumb out sideways (Loser gesture) and it was for the benefit of either officials or the second place team. The suggestion that it was religious was made up after the fact.

  • BamaJack

    Liberals and atheists don’t compete in athletic events so they should have no input
    or influence on their outcome. Their opinions in general should be
    discounted to meaningless and irrelevant.

    • Drew M.

      …said the irrelevant, meaningless troll.

    • Slade Foster

      I’m an atheist. I compete in athletic events.
      Myth debunked.

    • RobMcCune

      Christians don’t participate in thinking, all their opinions should be discounted.

      • tinker

        ^^^this

      • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.McElhiney Redorblack Nigelbottom

        And being an evidence based hypothesis, the post you are responding to backs this up to the level of a scientific theory ;)

    • Artor

      Wow, are you seriously that fucking stupid, or are you just showing off? My bet is the first option.

  • LiberalElitist

    What if the student had used his fingers to symbolize some perceived international symbol of atheism? How would Christian fundamentalists feel about that?

    • BamaJack

      That would never happen. Atheists never compete and win in sports.

      • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

        You probably don’t know when atheists compete, because they don’t invoke any gods, or talk about the absence of gods when celebrating.

        Oh, and I guess you never heard of Pat Tillman.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        Look at his list of posts, guys. He’s just a sad, angry troll. Give him what he wants by reporting him so he can feel persecuted.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ed.adams.370 Ed Adams

          It’s better to let his posts stand. They show the ugliest side of religion. He just says what a lot of the religious feel but hide behind their unbiblical love the sinner hate the sin evasive BS. The more folks see of the homophobic religious right freak show in all its hate-filled glory, the more they’ll be turned off by it. Especially the young. That’s a good thing.

        • Mario Strada

          I agree, let his trolliness stand. I can’t imagine anyone thinking he somehow was able to make a point, or even less an actual joke, with any of his posts.

  • Greg G.

    The rule takes the fun out of sports but instead of complaining about the rule, the theists want an exemption for them only.

    • NewDawn2006

      Well, they seem to think they are exempt from paying for water, being called bigots, bullying, anti-discrimination laws, and even the First Amendment. This should come as no surprise…

      • DR.Paliden

        What the hell are spin blabbing about

    • DR.Paliden

      this was a dissection of a sporting rule.
      not a question of your ignorance to see the plain truth set befor you.
      because you don’t see the shark in the water his teeth are still sharp.

      • Greg G.

        You’re not making any sense. I understand the rule. I disagree with the rule because it severely penalizes mild exuberance. Christians are trying to say it is religious persecution and that members of their cult should be allowed to point to the heavens while everybody else should still be penalized for any other celebration. Whether you see the shark or not, his teeth are sharp. So what?

  • ShoeUnited

    Even if it was a religious gesture, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it. There are people who are into this whole ‘God’ thing in our culture. He won a race, he deserves a little celebration no matter the intentions. I think the rule is too harsh regardless of philosophy. Providing he wasn’t flipping the bird at the other team, throwing your hands up in a race is almost expected.

    • Billy Bob

      I don’t think many people would. He can thank God, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care. I also agree that the rule is way too harsh.

      • Artor

        Also, “Excessive celebration,” is a vague term that invites selective enforcement. What exactly is excessive? Is a fist pump & a hissed, “Yesss!!!” too excessive? Is waving to your mom in the stands too excessive? Even if a spiked ball and a backflip are excessive, I still don’t understand why that’s grounds for disqualification. If a successful athlete wants to show off his superstitions, let him. It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg.

  • BamaJack

    If the kid had hoisted a rainbow flag and proclaimed his gayness in celebration following his victory he would have been awarded champion of the universe… of everything.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      It’s very sad that you’re too prejudiced and pretend-persecuted to work out why that statement is ignorant and paranoid.

      • BamaJack

        Hi I”m a male athlete and I like sticking my pecker into men’s butt holes!!! Give me an award!!!! lol

        • dcl3500

          Aha! The truth comes out! But seriously, I doubt you will find many here that are too terribly homophobic.

  • Houndentenor

    I remember high school officials being bizarrely overbearing about certain rules when I was a teenager. As an adult I was a substitute teacher for awhile between jobs and from an adult perspective it was even worse than I remembered. I realize that victory celebrations can get a little out of hand, but this rules sounds ridiculous. Of course, it’s hard to tell what really happened from a description (and I find it hard to believe that in this day and age when practically every phone has a video camera that no one has video of what actually happened!). Maybe it was excessive but without video I find that hard to believe. This does sound like a violation of the athlete’s first amendment rights and that will certainly be the argument made when this goes to court.

  • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

    It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if in fact the athlete in questions gesture was in fact something directed towards the second place team, but only claimed it was a religious gesture after he and his team was DQed. I’ve seen similar happen around here, though the athlete here didn’t have a leg to stand on since it was caught on video….flying the middle finger isn’t considered a religious gesture, well not to most I guess.

  • edwin

    if that is the part of the rules that is being held against this young man someone should explain the rule to the official. A single gesture of victory ( whether to god or whom ever) is not grounds for this disqualification under this section of the rules.

  • decathelite

    I ran a 110 hurdle race in high school, and, winning the race, beat my chest after I won. I was promptly disqualified, and you can be sure I didn’t ever do it again.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Atheists telling us it clearly wasn’t religious discrimination. That makes me feel better.

    • Billy Bob

      Got some evidence that it was? No? Didn’t think so.

    • RobMcCune

      Actually the officials in charge of the event said it wasn’t discrimination. It’s the athlete who was disqualified and a lot of christian wanking that says other wise.

      • Rwlawoffice

        And the Federal Government says that it is not religious discrimination for them to order a Catholic business to provide birth control.

        • RobMcCune

          Health insurance that pays for birth control if the employee so chooses. Christians can only be considered victims of discrimination in the U.S. by someone who is as myopic as Mr. MaGoo. Even for a lawyer, your description is dishonest.

          • rwlawoffice

            Not true at all. Catholic businesses have been threatened with business ending fines (millions of dollars in some cases) for not paying for health benefits that include birth control. It is the new HHS regulations that came in with Obamacare. There have been numerous lawsuits over the regulation. Saying that health insurance actually pays for the birth control ignores that it is the employer that pays for the health insurance that provides the coverage. in the past the employer could select coverage that did not include birth control, now they cannot without facing these fines..

            • RobMcCune

              Well, thanks for admitting that it’s a benefit to be used at the employee can use at their own discretion which Catholic businesses are seeking to deny their employees. I don’t see how facing penalties for disobeying a law which applies to all businesses, what ever the religion of their owners, is discrimination against Catholics. I have not heard of a case where the Catholic Church itself has had any of it’s entities threatened with such fines. Rather, in every case I have heard of, birth control conflicts with the business owners personal morality. The employer’s beliefs are irrelevant because health insurance is a form of compensation that is being given to these employees.

              I don’t believe it is discrimination to not allow an employer to deny legally mandated benefits to an employee based solely on the employer’s personal moral beliefs regarding the employee’s actions. By this logic a devout Jew or Muslim could deny an employee a lunch break if the believed the employee would eat pork.

            • Lori F – MN

              IF all the employees were good Christians they wouldn’t WANT birth control. But I bet Viagra and Low T products are covered.

    • Mario Strada

      He was disqualified for raising his arm above his head. But according to other reports I have read, the real reason was because once told that his victory display was against the rules he yelled or otherwise gestured toward the judges which in turn disqualified him. In other words, if he just celebrated, probably he would have gotten away with it, but when he told the judges to stuff it, he was gone.

      BTW, who is “us” in the “Atheists telling us”? All you assholes? Because your posts are usually pretty snarky and trollish, but this one is even more so. Especially because either you didn’t read the article or decide to ignore the facts in it to score a point.

      Since your posts rarely add to the discussion here, I think I speak for all the regular readers when I say that no one would be sorry to see you gone. What do you say we raise enough money for a subscription to “The Blaze” if that will get you and your snarkiness out of here?

    • Baby_Raptor

      Actually, the people who made the call said it wasn’t religious discrimination. Do you have some sort of mind-reading power that allows you to know their religious preferences?

      Yeah, didn’t think so.

      Go away already, lying sack of shit. Everyone here is tired of your crap.

      • Rwlawoffice

        Weren’t you the same guy who just a few posts ago in this same thread fussed at a Christian for insulting those that don’t agree with you?

        I was not referring to what the officials said to explain themselves, I was referring to Hemant’s comment. “Let’s get one thing straight: it wasn’t religious discrimination”

  • Sven2547

    Tangentially-related anecdote:
    My brother was a state-level hurdler in high school. At one particular track meet, my brother was catching up to the leader in the final 50 meters of the 200-meter hurdles. Just as they reached the finish, neck-and-neck for the win, the other runner apparently thought my brother has passed him, and yelled “FUUUUUUUCK!”. Instantly disqualified, and my brother advanced to the next round.
    They’re pretty serious about saying or doing anything irregular in student track meets, and in my opinion they’re a bit too strict.

  • Flonkbob

    That’s okay, I AM turning against Christianity. And Islam. And Hinduism. And Mormonism. And…well you get the idea.

  • fentwin

    “…he “put his hand by his ear and just pointed to the heavens,…”

    I say this is all a big mistake, he simply heard the faint plaintive call of a rare “Mangrove” Yellow Warbler and was just pointing it out for all to enjoy. :)

  • Great Gazoo

    Yeah…they got a bit out of line with this one. A guy celebrating a victory like that really isn’t an issue at all and a rule that went that far would be pretty stupid.

    There is no way the rule was clear enough to disqualify him anyhow.

  • Anna

    When on earth did this weird “pointing at the sky” thing begin?

    Admittedly, I don’t follow sports, but I never remember seeing anyone do this prior to about 10 years ago. It doesn’t seem to be confined to sports, either. You see people pointing at the sky when they win a competition, finish singing a song, etc.

    • ElDouchee

      so then it probably started about ten years ago?

      • Anna

        That’s what I’m curious about. Does anyone remember seeing it prior to the early 2000s?

        • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

          I do seem to recall Reggie White doing it during the 90′s

  • Joseph Owens

    Executive Director: Dr. Charles Breithaupt
    Department email: director@uiltexas.org
    Department fax: 512-471-5908

    Deputy Director: Jamey Harrison
    Email: info@uiltexas.org

    Chief of Staff: Kim Carmichael
    Email: cos@uiltexas.org

  • stop2wonder

    You can argue that the rule is too strict and I wouldn’t neccessarily argue with you there, but to allow a religious exemption to the rule would be wrong too as you’re opening up a slippery slope.

    Example: If I were to win the race and promptly hold up two middle fingers. While most would agree that this is offensive, I can just as easily claim it’s a personal gesture between me and my god and there is no offense meant; and who are the judges to say otherwise?

    Easier to just disallow all of it.

  • Thegoodman

    This is a perfect example of how Christian biased the media is. He broke the rules. He was DQ’d. What is the argument?

    Too many confuse “Freedom of religion” with “Free to do anything in the name of religion, without penalty”. He was not arrested for his gesture. He was not kicked out of school. He was simply disqualified from a high school sporting event…oh the humanity!

  • rgcustomer

    It’s highly unsportsmanlike to tell everyone that the creator and operator of the universe handpicked you to win, because you’re not only the most deserving competitor, but your win was more important than any of the world’s actual problems.

    Frankly, if pro athletes do this, their pay should be docked.

  • Bdole

    As we all know, atheists and pagans rule the school system – even in the south where they keep trying to push school prayer…TO SATAN!

    So, naturally they’re using this rule as a pretext to penalize a nice Christian boy.
    It’s just one more way God is being kicked out of school. Why, next week I wouldn’t be surprised if someone mowed them all down with an AK47 – sadly abusing our God-given right to purchase weapons of defense, and all because of those damn video games and liberal Hollyweird’s obsession with pornogrpahic violent movies – like Kung Fu Panda. Gentle beasts fighting…tsk tsk

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.m.parsons Sean Michael Parsons

    Just like a religious tool to ruin things for everybody. And yes, it is worth the disqualification.

  • r.holmgren

    If it wasn’t a “religious expression” then exactly how is it a gesture of celebration let alone excessive celebration?

  • Bdole

    Disqualifying the best team is denying reality. It’s a competition to see which team can run fastest. “Celebrating excessively” – whatever the hell that means – doesn’t change anything. I’d feel like shit if I were the losing team moving on after we were beaten, simply due to a technicality. Going forward, the best aren’t participating and that makes the whole thing artifical. They’re just punishing personality traits they dislike. Face it, sometimes assholes win, that’s life and kids had better get used to it. If nothing else, a poor winner can motivate others to try harder to beat the fucker next time.

  • Caleb Galaraga

    I would love to see a clear and proper explanation of that gesture by the officials and also to see the ACLU involve themselves on this matter. The gesture, according to the father is religious and it will require an utter lack of religious knowledge or a sincere disdain for religion for the TEAM to be disqualified for it. Based on many explanations, it was evidently non-offensive and brought about by the athlete’s joy on winning. Obviously, this “subjective decision” was against a non-offensive and non-intrusive religious gesture, thus, it infringes on someone else’s religious freedom.

  • Free

    The only thing according to the regulations that could have been used would be flagrant behavior defined by the dictionary as Conspicuously or obviously offensive. This is all a matter of interpretation. Without video evidence we only have the witness testimony and the testimony of the team and officials themselves. Hard to make an honest comment here without sufficient data. Unless, this young man was throwing up a middle finger at the officials for winning – (strange reaction to a win-generally one would do this when losing), I have reason to believe he was reacting to his winning excitement by thanking God. I agree with you all who think that pointing a finger heavenward is a weak grounds to deny an entire team a chance to compete at State after all their hard work. A video of the event would help us all more. We certainly want to give the team the benefit of the doubt here. Thats what we all want. Right?


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