A high school track team from Columbus, Texas was disqualified when a runner pointed to the sky after crossing the finish line. The issue is being discussed as possible religious discrimination, though the reason given for disqualification was not based on religion, but because the gesture was deemed “an unsporting act”.
FOX 26 has a report on the outrage that has ensued (via caintv):
The University Interscholastic League, responsible for handing out the penalty, has issued a statement on the matter, saying:
The UIL is composed of four geographic regions across the state of Texas, each of which are divided into six conferences in UIL track and field. A total of 24 regional track meets are held statewide and conducted by local meet officials, selected by regional sites.
At the Region IV Conference 3A Track & Field regional meet held on Saturday, April 27 at Texas A&M Kingsville, a relay team from Columbus High School was disqualified by local meet officials for an unsporting act at the conclusion of the boys 4 x100 meter relay.
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.
According to NFHS rules, once the meet is concluded, the results become final. Neither the UIL nor NFHS have rules that prohibit religious expression.
The UIL takes situations such as these very seriously, and is continuing to investigate the matter fully.