Running back penalized for gesture to God - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Running back penalized for gesture to God

TUMWATER, WASHINGTON (AP) - Tumwater High halfback Ronnie Hastie breaks free for a 23 yard touchdown run, takes a knee and points to the heavens. Then the referee literally throws a penalty flag right at him.

Hastie says he wasn't calling attention to himself, but someone else. "I do that to give glory to my heavenly father, Jesus. He gives me the strength, he's the one who gives me these abilities in the first place, "says Hastie.

The Junior has scored many touchdowns this season, and his kneel down and point.

"I've done it every time I've gotten in the end zone, nobody has ever said anything about it, it's something I've done as a tradition."

Mike Colbrese of the Interscholastic Activities Association says, "We really don't make comments about official's calls, those are judgement calls."

The executive director of the governing body overseeing high school sports in the state has seen the video, but the Referee's Association hasn't told him the circumstances behind the call.

He's aware of the religious overtones it represents, but says there's a rule that requires a player to give up the ball immediately after the play. Hastie didn't do that.

Mike Colbrese says, "The point is to make sure the game goes on, that something that happens after a score or after a spectacular play or whatever doesn't slow down play itself."

Celebrations are allowed at the pro-level, but discouraged by rules at high school and collegiate levels.

Hastie's father, a football coach himself, understands how people could read more into his son's touchdown because football and religion stir up strong emotions.

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