H.S. Football Player Flagged for Thanking God

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A high school football player in Washington state said he was surprised he received a penalty for pointing to Heaven after a touchdown.

In his team's semifinal game, Tumwater High School halfback Ronnie Hastie broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run, then he bent his knee and thanked God. Right away, the referee threw a penalty flag at him.

"I asked him and he said 'Unsportsmanlike conduct. You can't draw attention to yourself,'" Hastie said. "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."

Hastie said he has made the gesture before and never received a penalty.

Mike Colbrese, executive director of Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, pointed to a rule requiring players to give up the ball immediately after a play.

Hastie's father, a football coach, said he understands the controversy because football and faith often stir up strong feelings.

"So when that happened, in an environment like that, certainly all those emotions come together and you are going to get a lot of opinions about that type of gesture," Ron Hastie said.

Hastie said he won't point to the skies again after a touchdown. His school plays for the state championship this weekend.

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