An athlete who points skyward after an athletic victory in acknowledgement of his faith is not engaging in “excessive celebration,” as prohibited by University Interscholastic League rules. If that is a common interpretation of the rule, it should have been challenged and excised long ago. The equivalent of a quick personal prayer is neither obtrusive, obnoxious nor mocking, and any observers who find it thus are so virulently anti-religion and intolerant that they warrant no respect or attention whatsoever. And still…
Yes, Columbus (Texas) High’s re 4×100-meter relay squad had won its event, spurred by the stellar efforts of junior Derrick Hayes. Upon learning of the team’s victory, he pointed a finger to the skies. This common gesture, which can be seen dozens of times every day on videotapes of baseball games, was ruled by officials at the meet to have violated the University Interscholastic League (UIL) regulation barring “excessive celebration.” As a result, the entire 4×100-meter squad was disqualified and barred from moving on to the state championships.
If that harmless and inoffensive gesture was going to be interpreted as a celebration, which it is not, and if it is, excessive, which it also is not, the UIL had an obligation to warn coaches and athletes that it intended to enforce the rule idiotically and in a manner hostile to personal faith. It does not appear that such a warning was given. The penalty was unjust and cruel, and its effect is hostile to religion, as well as common sense and rationality. Columbus High should rally to the support of Hayes and his team mates, and the other teams ought to protest this result as well. This is “no-tolerance” in all the worst senses of the word.
Pointer: Alexander Cheezem
Source: Yahoo Sports