Derrick Hayes and the Columbus (Texas) 4 x 100 relay team won their qualifying race by seven yards, but were disqualified for a gesture that Hayes made before crossing the finish line. According to the KHOU report above and the boy’s father, it was for making a gesture of faith by pointing upward as he finished the race. The statement released from the UIL (from Dallas Morning News) would cast some doubt on that version of events, which has already become a celebrated cause demonstrating persecution:
At the Region IV Conference 3A Track & Field regional meet held on Saturday, April 27 at Texas A&M Kingsville, a relay team from Columbus High School was disqualified by local meet officials for an unsporting act at the conclusion of the boys 4 x100 meter relay.
The meet official indicated the athlete crossed the finish line and gestured upward with his arm and finger and behaved disrespectfully toward meet officials, in their opinion. In the judgment of the official, this was a violation of NFHS track & field rule 4-6-1. The regional meet referee concurred with this decision and the student was subsequently disqualified. There is no indication that the decision was made because of any religious expression. This was a judgment call, as are many decisions of meet officials in all activities.
According to NFHS rules, once the meet is concluded, the results become final. Neither the UIL nor NFHS have rules that prohibit religious expression.
The UIL takes situations such as these very seriously, and is continuing to investigate the matter fully.
Those darn Texas high school liberal officials. I checked rule 4-6-1 and I don’t see where it would actually prohibit a simple upwards finger in a show of faith, so everyone can rest assured that the NFHS is not launching a systematic assault on Christianity. The rule does prohibit disrespect toward an official, profanity, and taunting. No video is available of the actual incident. If it was an official overly applying a puritan rule to prevent celebration, that is a different issue. My guess: dad’s making a big deal out of this and turning his son into a martyr.
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