Some of you may side with the referee on this — there’s just no room for breaking the rules, and kids must learn to abide by them. Others of you will side with the young, high school quarterback — he had a normal reaction and there was nothing unsportsmanlike in what he did.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
On Saturday, Matthew Owens was playing in the state championship football game for Boston’s Cathedral High School. Near the end of the game, he ran a quarterback draw to the right. As he swept around the tackle, he saw nothing but green. He ran. And ran. And ran. All the way to the endzone. He scored the game-winning, title-clinching touchdown.
Or did he.
There was a flag on the play. Owens was accused of unsportsmanlike conduct. His crime? In the spur of the moment, at about the 20 yard line, he raised his arm for a split second in joy. That was enough for the ref. The touchdown was negated. Flustered, Owens threw an interception on the next play, and his team lost 16-14.
Video of the incident has been going viral:
Jimmy Lynch, the school’s athletic director, spoke to Foxnews.com. Not surprisingly, he disagreed with the call:
Jimmy Lynch, athletic director of Cathedral High School, said the “misinterpreted” call cost his team the state title, but noted how proud he was of his football team’s sportsmanship following the controversial call.
“If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that our kids are unbelievable kids, and that we haven’t been unsportsmanlike,” Lynch told FoxNews.com. “What people don’t realize is that no matter what, our kids tried hard for the rest of the game.”
And despite the agonizing loss, Lynch said Cathedral players willfully congratulated their opponents after the game.
“That’s what sportsmanship is all about,” he said.
Owens, who could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, did not “high-step, strut or slow down” as he ran for a late fourth-quarter touchdown during the game at Bentley University, Lynch said.
“I think it was just pure player excitement,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s excessive celebration … it’s a shame the call had to be misinterpreted.”
Owens’s father agreed in an interview with the Boston Herald:
“He raised his hand because he knew was going to the pinnacle,” Kenneth Owens told the Herald, his voice seared with emotion and anger at times.
“There was nothing dishonorable about the play. There was no doubt it was a touchdown. He gets 20 yards in — and he’s not thinking about the rule — and he just raised his hand.”
Later in the interview, however, Kenneth seemed to give some conflicting information when he claimed the move was in glory to God.
“He goes to a Catholic school where they are taught that their God is in the sky,” his father said. “So I know when he raised his hand, he was thanking his Lord for what happened to him today. Football is a team sport. There’s lot of kids that are hurting today.”
As for the ref, the school’s athletic governing body said the game is over and there’s no way to reverse the call or to believe that a wrong call was made.
“We can all look back at anytime in your life and say ‘I had a boss who made a bad decision,’ or things happen that go against you and you have to learn to accept it if there isn’t anything you can do to change it,” Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association spokesman Paul Wetzel said. “Accept it and move on, that’s part of life.”
What do you think?