New York State High School Football Player Penalized for Praising God
A New York state high school football player was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct after scoring a touchdown. So what exactly happened?
Mexico High School's quarterback, Dante Turo, who had just run 73 yards for a touchdown, was flagged after crossing the end zone for pointing his fingers to the sky. Turo is a devout Christian, and said the hand gesture was to praise God.
Turo said he was surprised that the referee called the penalty as he claims he's pointed to the sky every time he's ever scored a touchdown, or made any sort of big play..
Turo's school district is supporting him.
Mexico Central School District Superintendent Sean Bruno said, "From my vantage point, having the opportunity to see the film after the game, several times, it didn't appear there was taunting or excessive celebration. However I'm not a trained ref and I didn't have the pressure of the game, when making the call."
Turo isn't let the incident get to him, and says he won't hesitate to praise God again if he score another touchdown. Mexico wound up losing the game to Vernon-Verona-Sherrill 33-31.
The Mohawk Valley Chapter of Certified Football Officials offered their side of the story to NewsChannel 9 through a statement:
It is unfortunate that a coach, player, and parent have elected to take the spotlight off a hard fought game between two good football teams in Central New York and place it upon themselves through a series of untrue and derogatory statements made against an official on the game. Just before the first half ended, a player from Mexico scored a touchdown.
As he crossed the goal line, he raised his finger and the ball. The covering official interpreted this action as if he were signaling that he is “number 1” drawing attention to himself at the expense of the opponents he had just scored upon.
Based upon the official's interpretation, the rule is clear that the action is taunting and a penalty was appropriately assessed.
The call had nothing to do with penalizing a religion or religious expression as the coach, player, and parent have misled the media to believe. It was only after the penalty had been called, that the coach gave his interpretation as an act to honor God. The official on this game would have had no way of knowing a player's intention.
The members of the Mohawk Valley Chapter of Certified Football Officials have always treated teams, coaches, and players with fairness, respect, and without judgment or bias of any kind. They do an outstanding job of officiating the game and enforcing the rules written by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Thank you.