A God gesture, when an athlete points to the sky, disqualifies a team at a shot for a state championship. In fact, the Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals won the 4×100-meter relay by seven yards.
However, their hopes were ruined when Junior sprinter Derrick Hayes pointed to the sky. Hayes’s father, K.C., said that his son made a gesture of thanks to God, but raising a hand to the sky is considered excessive celebration according to the state scholastic rules. And with that, the team was disqualified.
“It was a reaction,” K.C. Hayes said. “You’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”
Many interviewed around town said that this was a violation of freedom of religion rights.
Columbus High School said that religious gestures are not banned, but they must be done off of the competition field or court.
“It’s a sad deal. I think it’s a travesty. Those kids work hard,” says father K.C. Hayes.
Hayes’ son Derrick had a once in a lifetime opportunity lost to heartbreak, K.C. said. “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,’” Hayes said.
A judge with the University Interscholastic League or UIL, whose name was not released, was there at the meet in Kingsville. The judge made the call to disqualify the four-member relay team, and state rules say the decision cannot be appealed.
According to the UIL, on paper the relay team was disqualified for “unsportsmanlike conduct.”