Nod to God gets track team disqualified

A high school student pointed up, supposedly praising God, when his team won its race. The team was disqualified for excessive celebration.

As he crossed the finish line in triumph, Derrick Hayes pointed up at the sky, not realizing the gesture would cost him the win his team had just earned.

Last weekend, the Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals in Texas competed in the boy's 4x100-meter relay race. Hayes was part of the winning team, but as Runner's World reported, his finish line faith got him and his team disqualified.

The race would have given the team a chance to qualify for the state championships, KHOU in Houston reported.

Instead, it is embroiled in a battle of competing interests: On one side is what some say is Hayes' religious freedom and on the other are the rules of high school sports, which prohibit excessive celebrations such as raising the hands.

Speaking to KHOU, Hayes' father said he believed his son's gesture was a way of giving thanks to God. "I mean, you're brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed."

The race was the team’s fastest this year. They finished seven yards ahead of the competition.

And the school’s superintendent, Robert O’Connon, said the action wasn't "terrible." Still, it "did violate the context of the rule," he told KHOU.

Hayes' father and other critics are now saying the rule stifles religious freedom. KHOU reported they are taking their complaints to the state, though the rule remains in place at this time.


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