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Author Topic: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"  (Read 498 times)

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Offline SethalaTopic starter

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/texas-teen-points-heavens-gets-4-100-relay-181303156.html

Apparently, a relay team in Texas won a race, and one of the runners made a quick religious gesture of pointing at the sky.  Unfortunately, the school has a fairly strict policy against "excessive celebration", and his gesture ended up disqualifying the team.

Now, pretty much every news story I'm finding on it is giving it a spin of "they're disqualified because of a religious gesture".  However, I've got a few other takes on it...

First, I'd like more information on this whole policy, especially what they qualify as "excessive celebration".  If it wasn't for the religious connotations, would his physical action of pointing at the sky count as enough to disqualify him?  Does anyone know anything more about it?

If the gesture wouldn't count as excessive, then I'm going to say this is going way too far.  I'm an atheist, and as much as I'd like religion to wither away to nothingness, doing it by banning and censoring religious displays is not the way to do it.  (Religious displays on public property is a different thing altogether, of course, but that's beside the point.)  People should be free to express their religion however they want, so long as it doesn't impede other peoples' expression of their religion and doesn't involve government or publicly-financed groups.

However, if it would be excessive, the opposite applies: it should be banned, and not be given any special treatment because it's religious.  I don't know what he actually did, but the policy seems very strange if this is the case however, so I think there's probably more to things than I'm aware.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts?

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Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 07:56:12 PM »
I'd like to know how they decided it was religious in the first place.  If I raise my arm and extend my index finger, it looks a heck of a lot like one of those foam hands they sell at football stadiums that say '[Our Team] Is #1!'

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 08:33:22 PM »
Well according to the referee and officials that made the call he was not making a religious gesture, but a taunting one.  I assume they interpreted sticking the finger in the air in such a way was to gloat about being “number 1.”  This falls under unsportsman like conduct.  The student later said that the gesture was a religious one, not a taunting act.  So the story is being made out to be one against religious gesturing, but really the simple act of holding up “one finger” is not a religious one.  The gesture though can be seen as taunting that this person is “number one” and this person is the best.  Do I think this is a bit nitpicky on the part of the referee’s, yes.  Do I think they disqualified him for religious practice, not at all.

Offline Neysha

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 08:45:43 PM »
Either way it seems excessive... the punishment I mean.

Hooray for Zero Tolerance style rules! :D

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2013, 08:48:10 PM »
Another victory for Political Correctness and all that..

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 02:58:28 AM »
Well according to the referee and officials that made the call he was not making a religious gesture, but a taunting one.  I assume they interpreted sticking the finger in the air in such a way was to gloat about being “number 1.”  This falls under unsportsman like conduct.  The student later said that the gesture was a religious one, not a taunting act.  So the story is being made out to be one against religious gesturing, but really the simple act of holding up “one finger” is not a religious one.  The gesture though can be seen as taunting that this person is “number one” and this person is the best.  Do I think this is a bit nitpicky on the part of the referee’s, yes.  Do I think they disqualified him for religious practice, not at all.

I thought self-congratulation and cheering was part of the spirit of America, especially in sports teams? Hmm, actually I can recall any number of "yee-haaw" hand gestures by goal strikers in European major league football that have been more exuberant than this one.  ::)

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Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 06:18:17 AM »
I thought self-congratulation and cheering was part of the spirit of America, especially in sports teams? Hmm, actually I can recall any number of "yee-haaw" hand gestures by goal strikers in European major league football that have been more exuberant than this one.  ::)

I think the important difference here is that it was a high-school team, and we've gotten to the point in schools that merely showing up deserves a medal.  Can't make anyone feel like they aren't medal-material. :P

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 06:55:28 AM »
I think the important difference here is that it was a high-school team, and we've gotten to the point in schools that merely showing up deserves a medal.  Can't make anyone feel like they aren't medal-material. :P

Aah, okay, I see... ;)

The most counterproductive field move I've seen in football (soccer) would have been the qualifier between Sweden and Denmark for the Euro 2008 games a couple, years ago. The game was played in Copenhagen and the stadium was boiling hot after Denmark had caught up to 3-3, and they would have kept the group lead if it came out a draw. One minute before full time a Danish midfield player punched one of his opponents hard in the gut; the main referee ordered the guy out (over the next match or two) and ordered a penalty strike for Sweden. At that point an angry, intoxicated Danish spectator rushed onto the field and tried to slap the referee. He didn't get closer than waving his fist at his target, but invading the field like that and attacking the umpires is such a total no-no. The outcome, after a couple minutes of deliberation, was to nullify the three goals Denmark had made, handing Sweden a surefire victory. The guy managed to evade the field in the general confusion.

Next day, Copenhagen tabloids had big photos of the incident, and one of them the frontpage headline "DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN? - Denmark's Most Hated"  8-) (he didn't give any interviews...)

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2013, 01:02:37 PM »
Well according to the referee and officials that made the call he was not making a religious gesture, but a taunting one.  I assume they interpreted sticking the finger in the air in such a way was to gloat about being “number 1.”  This falls under unsportsman like conduct.  The student later said that the gesture was a religious one, not a taunting act.  So the story is being made out to be one against religious gesturing, but really the simple act of holding up “one finger” is not a religious one.  The gesture though can be seen as taunting that this person is “number one” and this person is the best.  Do I think this is a bit nitpicky on the part of the referee’s, yes.  Do I think they disqualified him for religious practice, not at all.

Ahh, that makes sense.

Do you have anything quoting the officials on it?  I haven't been able to find anything about the ruling beyond the vague "excessive celebration" line.

Offline Silk

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 02:44:53 PM »
Depends which finger, Pretty sure flipping the bird to people can be seen as uncalled for.

Offline elone

Re: Relay team disqualified for religious "excessive celebration"
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2013, 03:22:00 PM »
Statemnt by the governing body. Seems that there was more going on than raising a finger, and no religious intent.

A statement released by UIL on May 2, states, “The meet official indicated the athlete crossed the finish line and gestured upward with his arm and finger and behaved disrespectfully toward meet officials, in their opinion. In the judgment of the official, this was a violation of NFHS track & field rule 4-6-1. The regional meet referee concurred with this decision and the student was subsequently disqualified. There is no indication that the decision was made because of any religious expression. This was a judgment call, as are many decisions of meet officials in all activities.”

UIL officials released another statement Monday, May 6, and even more information comes to light. The statement includes: “Over the course of the investigation, the UIL interviewed several eyewitnesses and reviewed video of the race. Additionally, the UIL spoke to the involved parties. The UIL has concluded the investigation and has found no evidence to suggest that the disqualification took place as a result of the student-athlete expressing religious beliefs. The basis for the disqualification was due to the student-athlete behaving disrespectfully, in the opinion of the local meet referee.

“Based on the UIL’s investigation, the student athlete raised his hand and gestured forward at the conclusion of the 4x100-meter relay. The meet official approached the student-athlete in an effort to warn him of a possible disqualification should that behavior continue. In the opinion of the official, the student reacted disrespectfully. Based on his reaction, the student-athlete was subsequently disqualified. Any decision to disqualify a student-athlete at any track meet must be upheld by the head meet referee. The meet official and the meet referee conferred, and the disqualification was upheld on-site. At no point during the discussions surrounding the disqualification at the meet was the issue of religious expression raised by any parties.

“The UIL’s investigation also revealed that all coaches involved were notified prior to the regional meet that any gestures in violation of the National Federation of State High School Associations track and field rule against unsporting behavior would be grounds for disqualification. Coaches were instructed to discuss this with their student-athletes prior to all races.”