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Winning High School Runner Disqualified for...Giving Thanks to God?

“I mean you’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”

Last weekend, Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals (Columbus, Texas) team member Derrick Hayes was preparing for sweet victory -- but, despite his win, the excitement was ripped away after he was disqualified for making an apparently unacceptable gesture.

His offense? His father, KC Hayes, claims that Derrick was punished for offering up a simple praise to God while crossing the finish line. WFAA-TV has more:

As he was crossing the finish line, Derrick Hayes pointed up to the sky. His father believes he was giving thanks in a gesture to God.

“It was a reaction,” father KC Hayes said. “I mean you’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”

Columbus ISD Superintendent Robert O’Connor said the team had won the race by seven yards. It was their fastest race of the year.

Though O’Connor cannot say why the student pointed, he says it was against the rules that govern high school sports. The rules state there can be no excessive act of celebration, which includes raising the hands.

So, Derrick and his team were apparently punished over an action that was perceived as being an "excessive act of celebration." While it's true that a prayer or sign of praise is, indeed, an act of exuberance, if the father's account is accurate, then the move was hardly self centered or overtly showy; regardless, it's still a violation of the rules.

Critics join KC in claiming that the disqualification simply isn't fair. According to the father, the decision violates Derrick's religious freedom. While these individuals are complaining, there's no evidence that their grievances will yield viable action to correct the measure.

“You cross a finish line and you’ve accomplished a goal and within seconds it’s gone,” said his father. “To see four kids, you know, what does that tell them about the rest of their lives? You’re going to do what’s right, work extra hard, and have it ripped away from you?”



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