Track Team Disqualified for Thanking God

by Todd Starnes – FOX News

A Texas high school track team was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line.

Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky – thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals.

But a judge with the University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school athletics in Texas, ruled that the gesture was a violation of the taunting rule – and the Cardinals were stripped of their victory.

“I think it’s a travesty,” said K.C. Hayes, Derrick’s dad. “It’s a sad deal. Those kids worked hard.”

Robert O’Connor, the superintendent of the school district filed an appeal, but so far the UIL is standing by its rule.

“It’s a harsh consequence for what some people may deem a small gesture,” O’Connor told “The rule states no celebratory gestures including raising your arms.”

The team was officially disqualified for “unsporting conduct.”

The UIL said they do not have a rule banning religious expression – it’s just a matter of where you express it.

“You can do whatever you want to in terms of prayer, kneeling or whatever you want to once you get out of the competition area. You just can’t do it in the competition area. It goes back to the taunting rule. I can’t taunt my opponent,” the superintendent told

The Texas Tribune reports that Gov. Rick Perry has called for the UIL to investigate the incident and take whatever action is necessary to ensure religious freedom and expression is protected at competitions.

In his letter, Perry said he would “not tolerate the suppression of religious freedom anywhere.”

“It is unconscionable that a student athlete could be punished for an expression of religious faith or that an act of faith could disqualify an athlete in a UIL competition,” Perry told the newspaper.


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9 years ago


9 years ago

I am a very religious and I find that after reading more of what Jim had posted I agree 100% that this kid deserved what he got. It was not about religion (the kid even said he felt his religious rights were not violated) but out of a kid who was being disrespectful after the referee told him to stop and he wouldn’t.
I think that celebrating is fine and these mushy, girly, liberals are destroying competitive nature as a whole, but rules are rules and you must follow them…and do your best to get them changed!

Roger Haserot
9 years ago

Without regard to the “rule”, God still wins. Those who restrict religious freedom from any source will end up in Hell! So be it!

9 years ago

Who is the judge and what is his or her official title with the UIL?

9 years ago

What town was this ?

9 years ago

Good grief. What is wrong about being happy you won a competition? I don’t care if you’re Christian, Muslim, atheist or whatever. There is nothing wrong with showing you’re glad you won. Now there are some expressions that may be over the top–like mooning–but if we totally ban emotions, we might as well be robots (or zombies)

9 years ago
Reply to  Bev

My sentiments exactly. What is wrong with those people?

9 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

Political correctness.

9 years ago

I believe he was thanking God not tauting the other team. God speed Governor Perry don’ let the PC’ers ruin more freedom and rights! ITS A LEFTIST AGENDA NOT A RULE STUPID!

Fred Garvin
9 years ago

What is the use of competing and winning in sports if you can’t taunt a little? Man, we have become a country of such little girls.

9 years ago

Well I guess this rule is some sort of bow to political correctness. Obviously the PC crowd doesn’t want anyone to feel “less than a winner” by barring any show of celebration by the actual winners. The twisted logic being that there must be something to be ashamed of in actually winning at something. It’s so sad that the nation is choosing the path to mediocrity over striving for excellence.

john martin
9 years ago

we need more people who will give GOD thier creator thanks for his help in ther lives “for in him(GOD) we live, move and have our being” “in everything give GOD thanks” it is GOD who gives us life, and strength, we need to thank him. it is a GOD fearing person who realizes the power of GOD IN THIER LIVES AND GIVES HIM(GOD) THE PRAISE. with so much evil in the world today,it is truely refreshing and a blessing to see anyone give GOD the praise and thank him that is due him as HE IS GOD!!!

9 years ago

Getting in an opponents face and screaming at him, “loser!” Is taunting. Raising your arms, thanking God, jumping up and down, giving a thumbs up to your family and friends in the stands, etc., is not taunting your opponent. If your opponent considers this taunting and it causes him emotional distress he belongs in an institution getting help, he is unable to function in a normal society.

9 years ago

“The rule states no celebratory gestures including raising your arms.” No one is denying him his right to religious freedom. If the rule needs to be reviewed for clarity then so be it. But as it stands, he raised his arm, he broke the rule.

john martin
9 years ago
Reply to  Carol

no, i think it was an UNGODLY person making a statement, it was clear the the person was giveing GOD the praise and thanks for his victory, with so many competitions in the past , in any sports, you will hear, ” i give GOD thanks” i think we need more of this and we don’t need to punish anyone who gives GOD thanks.

Roger Haserot
9 years ago
Reply to  john martin

God wins in the end. Those who do not believe, or restrict religious freedom will end up in Hell! So be it!

sodi levin
9 years ago

He should have just said he was gay and a white-african-American and all the problems would have gone away.

9 years ago

This had nothing to do with God. Only disrespecting a referee. See the story below. It includes and apology from the athlete in question.

The Patriot
9 years ago

If this can happen in Texas, our entire nation and way of life is at risk!

Harmon Elton Rea
9 years ago

It is unconscionable that some anti God official would have jurisdiction over a sporting event especially in Texas , and would be able to compare a gesture thanking God and giving credit to God for a victory to taunting an opponent . If I was the coach of the team given the victory I would refuse to accept the victory for the simple reason that no one but the idiot making the ruling will ever accept the decision .

Mark Hopkins
9 years ago

What exactly is more harmful, suppressing joy, pride, accomplishment, being a happy and quite human citizen…or suppressing any differentiation of individual accomplishment? Of making sure individual effort is not recognized or making sure non-achievement is exhaulted. One must wonder from which faction came those who placed and now enforce these rules. What lesson is being learned here and who is learning that message.

Gina Strickland
9 years ago

Can’t taunt WHAT opponent? Was it the devil they were competing against? Good grief. I expect better out of Texas.

9 years ago

Nothing is sacred any more. Hopefully one day these non believers will be able to convince the big guy upstairs if they get to meet him. God Bless

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