When A Second Is Too Long: H.S. Football Player Penalized For Thanking God

Since when is a second too long? According to a Washington State high school football referee, when a running back scores a touchdown and kneels and points Heavenward. Last week, in a state semi-final football game, Tumwater High School junior running back Ronnie Hastie scored another touchdown in his remarkable year. After each and every one, he has taken a brief knee and pointed skyward. The most advanced Swiss timing device doesn't clock it at more than one second. Yet, a referee threw a flag at him for delay of game — 15 yards for praising God.

Technically, it was "unsportsmanlike conduct" but a league official said, as you can see in the YouTube video below, that the rules state a player must give the ball to a referee immediately after scoring — nothing about "drawing attention to yourself" as the ref told Hastie. So, either the ref, who wasn't even in the picture when Hastie scored, thinks one second is somehow a delay of the action (never mind the place kicking team had to come on the field, anyway), or he made up his own rule. It's also a fact that Hastie has done this after each touchdown he's scored this year and drawn not one flag. According to the Seattle Times, the league is reviewing the ref's decision.

Apparently, this means a player can do almost anything he wants as long as he gives the ball back to the referee immediately (see Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly). But does this ref take into consideration the plausibility of players being able to search them out after a long run when the refs are still huffing and puffing it 30 yards behind? Or what about during a game winning touchdown, when the ball carrier is mobbed by teammates? Ridiculous is nothing when trying to squelch religious expression. Religion and state? Everyone there was there on their own accord, having traveled and paid admission. This wasn't being held "captive" at a school assembly.

Fortunately, the penatly was no factor in determining the outcome as Tumwater won in a route. If the same ref was assigned in the championship game, he would have been in a bind. Tumwater's opponent? Archbishop Murphy. As it was, Tumwater won the the title, 34-14.

"Fifteen yards: Illegal praise to God!" Be sure to read the info accompanying the video at YouTube.