Individuals are outraged after a young man’s “God gesture” caused his high school track team to be disqualified from competing in state finals.
The Inquisitr reported May 4 that Texas high school student Derrick Hayes’ apparent religious gesture to God was viewed as “excessive celebration,” which State scholastic rules prohibit. Even raising one’s hands, incredulously, are prohibited, according to runnersworld.com.
In just a few seconds Hayes’ God gesture saw the boys Columbus High School 4 X 100 relay team go from winning the regional meet and heading to state championships, to having it all stripped away.
How did the win so quickly turn to a disqualification? When Hayes, who was anchoring the relay team, crossed the finish line, he raised his finger to the sky. That gesture alone caused the winning regional’s relay team to be disqualified.
“It’s a sad deal. I think it’s a travesty. Those kids work hard,” says father K.C. Hayes.
Hayes’ son Derrick had a once in a lifetime opportunity lost to heartbreak, K.C. said. “As a team they reached their goal and in an instant it was just gone, over something we think is a non-issue. I guess someone else thinks it is an issue. He just said ‘dad I was pointing at the heavens,'” Hayes said.
A judge with the University Interscholastic League or UIL, whose name was not released, was there at the meet in Kingsville. The judge made the call to disqualify the four member relay team, and state rules say the decision cannot be appealed.
“For those kids the work they put in, what are we teaching them? Ok you’re going to sacrifice, work hard and do everything it takes and ok it’s just ripped away,” says K.C. Hayes.
“It’s a harsh consequence for what some people may deem a small gesture. The rule states no celebratory gestures including raising your arms,” explains Columbus Superintendent Robert O’Connor.
According to the UIL, on paper the relay team was disqualified for “unsporting conduct.”
The UIL also pointed this out to Superintendent O’Conner – they do not have a rule prohibiting religious expression.
O’Conner explained: “You can do whatever you want to in terms of prayer, kneeling or whatever you want to once you get out of the competition area. You just can’t do it in the competition area. It goes back to the taunting rule. I can’t taunt my opponent.”
K.C. disagrees. “It’s not a malicious act. It’s not a taunting act. It’s a ‘we did it’ and he (my son) knows where the source comes from. I know him. He’s not a malicious kid. On the football field he’ll hit you and then help you up,” said K.C.
“It’s heartbreaking,” says O’Connor. Superintendent O’Connor says since Saturday’s track meet and the disqualification he has received a number of nasty emails. One opened with: “Dear sir, you, are an idiot.” O’Connor wants to stress this is not his decision. This is coming from the UIL. In fact, the district protested the disqualification but the UIL would not change the decision.
In a world where on almost every level of sports – from collegiate to professional – athletes make reference to God, is this an infringement on an individual’s religious rights?
In the bigger picture, does God, whom the Bible says is not partial, help individual athletes or teams while refusing to help others?
Leave your thoughts below.