I know you guys probably think I overuse the word ‘outrageous’, but everyday it seems more and more outrageous things are happening. And in this case, all the Columbus High School 4 X 100 relay team runner did was point one finger toward God as he crossed the finish line and the entire team was completely disqualified. And they were winning the regional meet and were headed to the state championships. And now disqualified. All that work for nothing.
FOX HOUSTON – Some people are outraged after a high school track team is disqualified from competing in state finals because one runner made a religious gesture. In just a few seconds the boys Columbus High School 4 X 100 relay team went from winning the regional meet, heading to state championships to having it all stripped away. How did the “W” so quickly become “DQ”? Well. when the anchor of the relay team crossed the finish line, he won the race, raised his finger to the sky and that gesture 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 K.C. Hayes. Hayes’ son Derrick Hayes is the runner who won the race then pointed to God, turning a once in a lifetime opportunity into a huge heartbreak that will likely last his lifetime. “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” says K.C. Hayes.
A judge with the University Interscholastic League or UIL, which enforces the rules for high school athletics, was there at the meet in Kingsville and made the call to disqualify the four member relay team. “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 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 I.S.D. Superintendent Robert O’Connor. According to the UIL the relay team was disqualified for “unsporting conduct”. The UIL also points out, it does not have a rule prohibiting religious expression. “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,” O’Connor explains.
“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,” Hayes says.
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