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Avatar Samantha Ai

Team DQed: for religious gesture or rules?

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Members of a boys 4 X 100 meter relay high school track team in Texas were left in tears last weekend after the University Interscholastic League of Texas disqualified them from competing in the state championships because the team's anchor runner made a "religious gesture" as he crossed the finish line to win their regional title.

The runner, Derrick Hayes reportedly lifted a finger to the sky in celebration, as he wrapped up the win for Columbus High School. According to his father, K.C. Hayes, he was simply pointing to God. But UIL officials disagreed and slapped the team with an "unsporting conduct" charge, disqualifying them from participating in the state championships.

"It's a sad deal. I think it's a travesty. Those kids work hard," K.C. Hayes told My FOX Houston."

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," said Hayes of his son's response to the incident.

On Thursday, the UIL defended the decision of its officials while noting that the matter was still being investigated.

"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," UIL said in its statement.

<snip>

"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," said Hayes.

"It's a harsh consequence for what some people may deem a small gesture," said Columbus I.S.D. Superintendent Robert O'Connor. "The rule states no celebratory gestures including raising your arms," he concluded.

Calling the incident "heartbreaking," O'Connor said since the event he has received several nasty e-mails including one that reads, "Dear sir, you, are an idiot."

Was Relay Team Disqualified From State Championships for 'Religious Gesture?'

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Two things come to mind.

Looking a little further into this, it appears they were disqualified for making a gesture of triumph and that it had nothing to do with being a religious gesture. Now, if other athletes had celebrated their win in a similar, but non-religious way, (eg punching the air) but were not disqualified then one could say this was unfair.

The press release is here: https://www.uiltexas...-track-decision

Their rule isn't particularly clear about this:

(4) Regard opponents as guests, putting clean play and good sportsmanship above victory at any cost. Win without boast and lose without bitterness. Victory is important, but the most important thing in sports is striving to excel and the positive feelings it fosters between those who play fair and have no excuse when they lose. The development of

recreative aspects and positive human relations should be stressed in all competition.

The second thing is, when did it become wrong to celebrate doing well in competition?

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Posted (edited)

Was it just me, or did anyone else get the impression that when the guy "lifted a finger to the sky" it might have been the middle finger, pointed at the other teams who finished behind them? And when disqualified he's now claiming it was just a "finger" (no indication of which) pointed to the sky as an acknowledgement of God?

On reflection I think I probably read more into it than was there, but it wasn't the religiosity of the action that got them disqualified, it was the "unsportsmanlike" attitude of celebrating. Presumably, it was because the race was still going on, and excess celebration can affect the focus of other teams. Let's assume a hypothetical situation - one of the slower teams was just passing the baton on at the final relay change, when unexpected movement (arms waving in the air) affect their concentration and they drop the baton thus being disqualified from finishing the race. In order to stop incidents like this hypothetical scenario, celebrations should be left until after the race is completed by all teams. From then on, I expect hugs and jumping up and down in ecstasy to be the norm. Catholics will cross their hearts, Muslims will salute God, atheists will fist pump to no one and everyone. The race is over so they won't disturb any runners still in the competition.

I could be wrong, but that's my expectation. Affecting the concentration of teams still competing would definitely be considered as "unsportsmanlike", in my estimation :)

~ PA

Edited by Paranoid Android
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I come from an area in the US where college football is like a religion. I've watched a game I love change over the past 40 years from one of hard hitting very rough and tumble TEAM sport into a flash and dazzle "look at me" show of individual talent. I do not like the change. I agree with Arbenol, if no others were similarly "celebrating" then the kid broke the RULES he agreed to abide by - having said that, what's the point in playing a game if one cannot celebrate in even a minor way such as this?

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Sports in Vietnam now teach "winning" and competition, not sportsmanship and teamwork. I think this is because they do things like hand out trophies and give the winners special prizes and TV appearances. That is just the way it is and I need to not be such an old man.

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I come from an area in the US where college football is like a religion. I've watched a game I love change over the past 40 years from one of hard hitting very rough and tumble TEAM sport into a flash and dazzle "look at me" show of individual talent. I do not like the change. I agree with Arbenol, if no others were similarly "celebrating" then the kid broke the RULES he agreed to abide by - having said that, what's the point in playing a game if one cannot celebrate in even a minor way such as this?

Sports in Vietnam now teach "winning" and competition, not sportsmanship and teamwork. I think this is because they do things like hand out trophies and give the winners special prizes and TV appearances. That is just the way it is and I need to not be such an old man.

It just seems totally weird to have kids play competitive team sports and then teach them that celebrating achievement is wrong. I understand and agree with the motivation for this. You only have to look at the behaviour of some so-called sportsmen (and women) and their 'win at all costs' mentality. But winning and losing are part and parcel of competitive sports, and surely we can teach our kids to win and lose with grace and dignity without sapping the joy from it.

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Posted (edited)

According to the UIL Sportsmanship Information Manual the following is considered...

...acceptable: Applaud all participants during team introductions, regardless of team affiliation.

...acceptable: Applause at the end of a contest for performances of all participants.

...unacceptable: Attempts to distract opponent during contests such as yelling or waving arms during opponent’s free throw attempt, serve, etc.

Page 8

Edited by Leave Britney alone!

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The runner, Derrick Hayes reportedly lifted a finger to the sky in celebration, as he wrapped up the win for Columbus High School. According to his father, K.C. Hayes, he was simply pointing to God. But UIL officials disagreed and slapped the team with an "unsporting conduct" charge, disqualifying them from participating in the state championships.

Yep, I'm thinking it was not his pointing finger, no way, that is far to innocuous and hardly distracting given he is in front just for starters. People raising an arm in the air going over the finish line is way too common, much less just a "pointing" finger for the officials to even raise an eyebrow, middle finger on the other hand - definitely rates the unsporting conduct badge.

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Posted (edited)

According to the UIL Sportsmanship Information Manual the following is considered...

Page 8

That's what I thought. Thanks for the link, Britney :) You don't often see overly celebratory actions immediately after a win. Not in athletics, at least (Football, the celebrations after a touchdown or try or goal, depending on the brand of football being played, can sometimes be a piece of theatre in itself, like
). It's done when the official winner is announced. Notice how in Track & Field Olympic events, the race is run, the official rankings are announced and it's not until after that, that the winner puts their arms up to acknowledge the crowd. Especially in a high-focus event like Relay where a millisecond mistake can cause you to drop the baton, having unexpected movement ahead (a competitor waving their arms in the air) could cause you to lose rhythm, drop the baton and be disqualified.

I am of the opinion that the officials felt the arm waving could be construed as affecting the focus of other teams and therefore unsportsmanlike.

Edited by Paranoid Android
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