Track Team Disqualified from State Due to "Act of Faith"

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A Columbus, Texas, high school track team was disqualified from the Texas State Championships after the team’s anchor runner, Derrick Hayes, made a religious gesture as he crossed the finish line.

According to local news sources, Hayes touched his ear then pointed to the sky as he crossed the finish line in the 4×100 relay race, seven yards before the next runner. 

The victorious 4×100 relay would have qualified the team for the Texas State Championships, but a judge from the University Interscholastic League (UIL) disqualified the team due to what the rulebook describes as a “celebratory gesture.”

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  • Junk See

    It’s a shame Christians, young believers at that, are being persecuted for their faith in God. You are a winner in God’s eyes! Blessings.

  • Pastor Devin Miller – Minnesot

    You have joined the countless thousands that have been persecuted for righteousness sake. Keep believing!! God is pleased when man is not!

  • Alistair

    Stand up not because it looks right to man, but because it is right. I live on the other side of the world and rejoice in your victory. Do it again next year… Blessings

  • Jane

    Your gesture to your God and Savior in thanksgiving for your accomplishments was the perfect thing to do no matter its earthly consequences. Your stand brings honor and glory to Him. He sees and never forgets.

  • Claire

    Thanking God for everything that He has given you, especially if you just won a relay and could go to state, is a wonderful thing. Whatever happened to freedom of religion?

  • Bill

    The education system in the US was started by CHRISTIANS. It advanced because of CHRISTIANS! It will be the anti-christian that will bring it down, and bringing it down they are! God help us!!!

    • Anne Studstill

      So true. What rights will be taken from us next? It’s best that Christians learn to be more self-sufficient as a group and independent, maybe even sharing heirloom seed banks, growing medicinal plants, and providing their own electric power. Maybe a Christian team could be started or an interfaith group of teams that allow religious expression. There must be some way to do it and to avoid being sued. This is the USA still isn’t it? Don’t tell me people will have to leave this country to avoid religious persecution. Does anyone know of good countries with low crime rates that allow Christians to worship freely these days?

  • Maryfrances

    I couldn’t get the video to play. However, this might not be persecution, if they ban all “celebratory gestures.” But who would be cruel enough to ban those? When you’ve worked and worked for a goal and finally achieve it, and now they punish you for celebrating? That is anti-Biblical in its thought, for sure; God celebrates victory. Jesus went one further, making a “public spectacle” of His defeated enemies (Col. 2:15).

  • God’s Errand Boy

    If a scholarship fund exists for this team, I would GLADLY contribute!!!!

  • Hank

    It’s a shame and doesn’t seem fair, but I was an assistant track coach and I know that the rules are very strict. A girl can get DQ’d for having the wrong kind of pony tail holder in her hair. Rules are rules no matter how stupid they may seem. God wants glory, but there are other ways to freely show that. For example, they won the race so he most likely would have had an opportunity to give God glory when a reporter talks to him and there are no rules against that. However it is up to the judges, and something that sounds so small could have been overlooked. It’s not like he Tebowed at the finish line. Too bad. All the hard work…

  • retired bass

    If we break a law or rule with a demonstration of faith, we should accept whatever penalty comes. As believers we should not expect “favors” just because we are Christians. It becomes discriminatory and persecution when Christian gestures are banned and others allowed. We can praise God for victory without making any gesture or saying anything audibly.

  • Joseph

    Sorry, this is just ridiculous to me. That such a rule exists, or that it would prevent advancing is extreme. If you have to have such a rule for whatever reason, one with a penalty… how about a fine or something? But this whole thing is extreme and silly to me.

  • Anthony Lopez

    They may have been disqualified from this race, but continue in faithfulness and you will qualify till the end in the race of your faith!

  • Margaret Parker

    People of faith must become more involved in issues such as this that deny our freedom for spiritual expression. What a shame that in 2013 that the UIL is willing to suppress this young man’s right to recognize and acknowledge his faith in God so that they will not be sued by someone who feels offended. What about offending those of us who are Christians? This young man would make any mom proud and I hope and pray that he does not allow this unfortunate situation to deter him from giving God all the Glory! What if all of the athletes began to recognize God in such a powerful way! Where would the UIL be then? TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

  • Gregory

    I’m curious if they asked the opposing coaches, if they have a problem to the actions the young athlete took? Did any of the coaches go on record saying what the kid do was wrong? I certainly wouldn’t want to be the third place relay team that gets to go to state because someone was DQ’d for giving God the Glory.

  • David Adam Tucker

    Personally, I feel that the team didn’t deserve to be disqualified. He was just thanking God for a victory. I hope justice will be served for this. That rule is unconstitutional and it’s wrong. The team won the race and rightfully deserves to go to State. End of story

  • Willie D’.

    If the Schools would start to teach the GOLDEN RULES again, for those that don’t know what those are, is the Ten Commandments, maybe these kids wouldn’t be killing each other. Might even honor their Father and Mother, and be proud that Jesus is Lord.

    • rlmbr4

      or if only they would acknowledge another golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” as coming from the bible, but so many people don’t know this fact. I once said this rule to a teacher at my school, and she said “JFK” and I replied “No……..Luke 6:31!”

  • TheophilusX

    It is his religious duty to give Glory to God – when people were clapping he pointed up to God. Not to mention the fact that when people say, ‘Good job!’ Athletes will respond with a thank you… this is nonsense – the word, ‘excessive’ has become defined as anything at all?
    This started as a free speech violation – athletes should be able to celebrate just as much as they wish- though it may be in bad taste to do it to much it MUST be their free speech right. When ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is removed from the world then you have to write more and more laws and then you will end up violating freedom of speech and freedom of religion. When a people turns from God they have to keep multiplying laws to try to fill the void…

    • Anne Studstill

      Those are interesting points, especially at the end. If people would just obey God’s law it would be a near perfect world. I’m sure the Bible is shorter than the collection of man made laws created in an attempt to civilize this nation.

  • Ray Bingley

    I find it hard to tag the word excessive to this at all!!! No fist pump, just a small raise of te hand!! That’s a joke!! The world is completely screwed up. They praise permiscuous homosexuals for coming out, and penalize kids for virtually nothing!!!


      Not the world, Ray. In this case, I would say the man who interpreted the rule in that way needs to think again. I agree with you! THIS HAS TO BE ONE OF THE JOKES OF THE MONTH!

  • hilda campbell

    Pastor Hilda
    Those who refuse to acknowledge your trust in God, may delay your State, state of victory, but we all know you all are the real champs. Therefore, no matter how, vile, unfair, demonic, and oppressive this decision, they cannot deny whatever God has in store for you and your winning team. Glory in God, even when naysayer make bad choices regarding the God, that gives life, breath and blessings. I know its difficult when you won’t go to the finals, but those in second place are now living a lie. How does that make them feel?


    It the rule states that one cannot make excessive celebratory signals, the rule needs to state what is “excessive.” I think a lawyer versed in these matters should be able to help in this matter. It would be interesting to know how many people would say that “Touching the ear and pointing to the heavens” is an excessive celebratory event.

    • Anne Studstill

      This is the best comment yet. Is there anyone willing to do it for free though? The team might experience more unjust losses if they stand up for their rights, but conflict seems to be the only way people can keep their freedom in this world sometimes.

  • J. A. Robinson-Davis

    Keep on giving God the glory. Whatever you do for Christ will last, Let the judge and jury handle this case. If He (God) have to move mountains that attempt to hinder His plan and purpose in your life, He will do it quickly. “No fear” Your destiny is faith designed, not according to this world’s system. Keep running for JESUS!!!!!!

  • Debbie Powell

    I would like all Christians, in the midst of this persecution, to find out a little something about the American Center for Law and Justice. (ACLJ) They fight for religious freedom in this country every day. This would be a perfect case for them to handle. I’ve prayed about a lot of issues that have torn my heart apart lately. This will be one of them. We have already won the war. We still have to face the scattered battles that stand in our way to the final conflict when satan is finally gone. Keep the faith and prepare for rough times ahead. Christ is with us always.

  • Denise Olczak

    Welcome to the new America, void of anything recognizing God. We as Christians have remained silent and now we are reaping what has been sown. It is not a pretty picture.

    • Cody Rines

      HAhahahahahaha Silent Christians?!!? That is a real knee slapper

  • Jr Alanis

    How about a pat on the back or clapping for the other teams that were defeated – is that too excessive? Once the race is over – do these runners just get on the bus and return home or are they rewarded for their efforts by receiving a medal, trophies, mentioned in the local news paper and television news station(s). It seems bias, who are the judge(s) that decided this call and has that issued been considered.

    My best to the boyz and keep running the race.

  • John Taylor

    Without Jesus Christ there is nothing , it good to see a kid who from where his strength comes from, as for Satans servants let us all pray for them for we know the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

  • Ps. Leivi Mulitauaopele

    As a Christian living in Australia, I too find it difficult to accept such a ruling – a small gesture of thanksgiving to the Almighty God who made it possible for this particular runner to win? I stand in full support of this team and by the show of their faith (by the anchor man). I am proud to know that there are real people out there in this world that wish to openly declare their faith in God…..Allelujah! Freedom of Religion!

  • al

    This young man’s test will come next year and he has already indicated that he will fail. He will deny his faith to play on the track team. Paul reminds us in Eph. 6:3 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” This young man would not speak about what he did for fear of jeopardizing a spot on next year’s team. Further, he will be encouraged to do so by pastors and others ‘in the faith’.

    • Anne Studstill

      I don’t know that his withdrawing from the team is necessary to prove his faith. Did he simply agree to stop his religious gestures during athletic events? The Bible also says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you were a successful athlete, possibly your best skill, how would you feel if someone said, Give it up or you don’t love God? I think you shouldn’t judge the young man so harshly. Don’t make him a martyr. He has done a great service already by exposing this anti-Christian behavior, Why would a loving God want this young man to suffer more? I think He wouldn’t want that.

  • vince

    how could these things be happening?

  • Patti Weaver

    Question: Was he aware of this rule? It’s time to CHANGE such a rediculous “rule!”

  • Grace

    These guys won.
    The definition of “EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION” Was grossly tortured for the sole purpose of religious persecution of this Christian.

  • Grace

    I REALLY hope ADF is alll over this

  • Beverly Martin

    It’s okay to pop the champagne, carry players on shoulders, tear down goal posts, get drunk in the stands but should a young player acknowledge his faith and thankfulness to God, THAT is a no-no?? I hope every Christian high school coach and player across this nation writes to the young man to congratulate him and then writes another letter to the UIL demanding a retraction of the rule.

  • n. jenkins

    sad, sad for people who try to stop God’s people from giving him his glory, But I hope and pray that these young men understand that Satan is busy, he’s trying to work on all of us that truly love the lord. but I say to them, hold on to God’s unchanging hand, keep giving him the praise, stand firm and hold to God, your Faith is what will get you there to God’s eternal reward, keep Praising!!

    • alltojah

      Agree…just keep praising Him and holding onto the faith. We will receive a better crown for eternity, if we hold on to the faith.

  • Sharon

    Didn’t you say the rule was ‘excessive’ act of celebration – hand gestures included? It doesn’t seem excessive to me. There certainly seems grounds for argument there regardless who the runner wants to acknowledge with his pointing finger. Stupidity rules by the sound of things.

  • Geoffrey Kennedy

    So it wasn’t an act of faith as such, but a celebratory gesture they were disqualified? Sounds to me like this is just twisted to be a bigger story than it should be. The news commentator clearly said the gesture was made before the line. I am a Christian and I believe in expressing my faith – but the rules are there. Sad it just so happened to be a Christian caught out by the rules. This is a nothing story. All he had to was wait til after the race to praise. Maybe there is even a spiritual lesson there about running the race and not allowing anything distract you?

  • Mark Teets

    What type of response would be acceptable in Texas? Can you clap your hands? Can you make any verbal sounds. Can you move any part of your body at all? Someone opened a can of worms.

  • Keith

    You journalists took a cheap shot mislabeling this story. Shame on you!

  • Anne Studstill

    Soon will come the atheist “religion” of the state like in communist China where Christians are imprisoned for their faith. It sickens me that this nation founded by Christians could be dragged so low by immoral atheists who begin such policies. I would rather let people of all religions be able to express their love and gratitude to the divine than to support such discrimination against these athletes. We all know who the real winners were in this competition. I have nothing against the other team who had nothing to do with all of this though. I wish I was wealthy and could give the whole team college scholarships or internships, but I will be lucky if I can put my four children through college. Support this team rights and praise God! Yes, I dared to say it. Praise God!

    • Alfred Vance Droddy

      Change the rule. UIL (United Illiterate Leftist.) Has to be politics.

  • Christopher H

    Jesus teaches us in John 12:31 who the ruler of this world is, as does Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:4, so it is not surprising that he displays his power. This incident only affirms why we are not to seek the things of this world, nor love the things of this world 1st John 2:15. Although the team did not get recognition from those that are controlled by their father who is the ruler of this world. The Ruler of Heaven the place where we all want to go, loves all who look to and praise God and His Holy name. The race that should matter is the race that Paul speaks to Timothy of in 2nd Timothy 4:7&8. May God continue to “Bless those on the track team who recognize where their power, health, and strength to endure truly comes from. When you run for God all else does not matter. “Amen”

  • Cody Rines

    You are what is wrong with the world.