Again with this?
Courtesy of WeaselZippers:
COLUMBUS, Texas — An act of faith has cost an area track team a win and a chance to advance to the state championships.
This past weekend, the Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals had just won a boys relay race when a runner’s final gesture got them disqualified. 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.
If that is what counts as “excessive”, exactly what qualifies as a sufficiently “moderate” act of celebration: sweating?
Derrick Hayes and his Mighty Cardinal teammates aren’t the only ones who have a legitimate complaint here. Sports is an area which lets all of us feel the thrill of competition and achievement, while also teaching (and re-teaching, and re-re-teaching…) the essential life lesson of how to lose with dignity and grace.
Is a simple arm towards the sky the same as taunting or belittling an opponent? I’d say unequivocally: NO.
Yet recently it seems I’m becoming a minority on this topic. Remember this example, from 2011?
BOSTON — A Massachusetts high school lost a state championship game because a player raised his arm in triumph as he ran for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown, and Boston mayor Thomas Menino doesn’t like it.
The penalty for the gesture by Cathedral High School quarterback Matthew Owens in Saturday’s Division 4A Super Bowl led to the losing team wondering if the referee’s decision could be challenged. The state association said Wednesday that it could not, and that there is no provision in MIAA rules to overturn an official’s call after a game has been concluded.
Haven’t we seen enough of this hyper-literal interpretation of Zero Tolerance-type rules by now? It’s certainly not limited to just the sports arena, that’s for sure:
- As recounted by our good friend “That Mr. G Guy“, we just witnessed a kid who accidentally left his unloaded shotgun in the trunk of his car (he was skeet shooting the day before). A high school senior, Eagle Scout, and honor student, young Cole Withrow realized his mistake, then took immediate steps to have the gun picked up by his mother… and was promptly suspended by the school and charged with a felony by the police.
- And then there’s the kid whose little green army men were taken off his cupcakes, because the one inch plastic soldiers were holding guns.
- Or the 10-year-old boy who was suspended for bringing his 1″ penknife with him… on a camping trip.
- Or the 5-year-old girl who was suspended for making terrorist threats with her pink “Hello Kitty” bubble blower gun.
The common denominator in each of these were authority figures following the most narrow, literal interpretation of the “rules”, rather than using their God-given common sense to interpret and apply the INTENT of the rules.
To go back to our initial example, was Derrick Hayes said to be “flossing”, high-stepping, or taunting after he crossed the finish line? Again, no. If the intent of such rules is to foster good sportsmanship, than I can hardly understand how punishing this kid (and the whole team) will further that goal. However, if the purpose is to drive any and all joy out of the sport, well then: this just might do it!!
I’m not agitating for the removal of all rules in society, or for our culture to start coddling those who flagrantly flaunt the law. But rules without wisdom are dangerous: they’re a blunt instrument wielded by a blind man, when a scalpel and a surgeon are called for.
Kids are kids, and we seem to be trying to make them into little, pre-programmed automatons. Instead of teaching them HOW to think, we’re force-feeding them WHAT to think. And we seem to be ignoring well-known human behavior while we do it.
We’d better wise up: when you continually try to force square pegs into round holes, you usually end up with no square pegs, …and some badly damaged round holes, too.
There is only one bright side to all this that I can see, at least as far as Derrick Hayes of Columbus, TX is concerned:
the kid’s a natural for a major endorsement deal…