Track Team Disqualified for Thanking God

By on May 6, 2013

A Texas high school track team was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line.

Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky – thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals.

But a judge with the University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school athletics in Texas, ruled that the gesture was a violation of the taunting rule – and the Cardinals were stripped of their victory.

“I think it’s a travesty,” said K.C. Hayes, Derrick’s dad. “It’s a sad deal. Those kids worked hard.”

Robert O’Connor, the superintendent of the school district filed an appeal, but so far the UIL is standing by its rule.

“It’s a harsh consequence for what some people may deem a small gesture,” O’Connor told “The rule states no celebratory gestures including raising your arms.”

The team was officially disqualified for “unsporting conduct.”

The UIL said they do not have a rule banning religious expression – it’s just a matter of where you express it.

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