Derrick Hayes And His Team Were Disqualified For An ‘Excessive’ Act of Celebration. Sometimes Rules Are Stupid

Derrick Hayes disqualified for an 'excessive act of celebration'
Derrick Hayes and his team were disqualified from advancing to the State tournament for an ‘excessive act of celebration’.

Derrick Hayes, a student at Columbus High School in Texas was the anchor in a team race and won, only to be disqualified for a gesture towards the sky.

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. [ ]

Excessive Act of Celebration

I’ve played a lot of sports in my youth.  Some sports I was better at than others.  But one of the best parts of playing a sport and being a part of a team is celebrating.  Sure, there’s all sorts of celebratory gestures and antics; ranging from from humble, comical, farcical  to obnoxious.  Of course how you view the celebration probably hinges on how much emotional investment you have in the competition and on which side you’re on.

Before I go any further, let’s examine the excitement spawned by big moments in sporting events.  The first video is of cricket celebrations, which resemble a spontaneous team emotional climax.  But it’s all in good fun.

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Alright well, that’s Australia.  This took place in the US, so in fairness we should probably have a look at a sport there.  I’ll spare you any soccer celebrations – I’m sure everyone is well acquainted with how insane a human can become after successfully kicking a ball into a net.  So onto football, good old American gridiron.

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They do tend to go a bit over the top in football.  It’s probably the steroids.  Though those pervade all sports these days, so I don’t know. But we see it in hockey when there’s a goal, baseball when there’s a home run or the final out of a big game, and yes, in running competitions too.  One of the most perfectly natural gestures in the world is a fist pump, or to raise one’s arms above their head.  What about pointing to the sky?  I’m an atheist, am I offended?  Hell no.  This was a big race for the team, they won, the kid felt great and he made a comparatively subtle celebratory gesture.

Rules Are Rules

The rules state there can be no excessive act of celebration, which includes raising the hands.

Ok, some rules are stupid.  Not only was the team disqualified from the match, but also from advancing to the State championships.  While god played no part in Derrick’s victory, his hard work and dedication, as well as his teammates, most certainly did.  I haven’t found any footage, but by all accounts he raised his hand to the head region and pointed towards the sky.

We see sportsman give thanks to god all the time following a match, often during the course of a press conference.  I think rather they ought to give thanks to their parents – if they were integral in supporting them and facilitating their ability to pursue their dreams through countless car drives and loving inspiration – or perhaps to the teammates and the coach.  But that’s just what I think, and I don’t begrudge Derrick a finger pointed towards the sky.  Though admittedly, Tim Tebow’s ceremonious thanks to god were tiresome and sometimes divisive, but he can be as delusional as he likes.

Was Derrick Hayes ‘Excessive’ In His Celebration?

It would be fantastic if one day during a press conference someone said, “I’d like to thank evolution by natural selection for my genes, and also all the people who encouraged and supported me.”  That would be more realistic and awesome, but whatever.  Derrick Hayes, in his moment of elation, having triumphed as a team to progress to the State championships, lifted a finger to the sky.  His endorphins may have overruled his recall of the rules – that aren’t specifically against religious gestures, but excessive acts of celebration. 

If it were my decision at the time it wouldn’t have even registered in the field of my consciousness that Derrick Hayes or his teammates should be disqualified.  I may have even felt good to see a fellow primate and his teammates celebrating a hard fought victory.  It’s good to value reason and logic over faith, but reason and logic tell me that disqualifying the team because of this ‘excessive act of celebration’, even if it was out of faith, is ridiculous.

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