As soon Ronnie Hastie scored a touchdown for Tumwater High School in Washington state, he dropped to one knee and pointed to the heavens. But as soon as he stood up, the referee threw a flag for "unsportsmanlike conduct" for drawing attention to himself.
Hastie explained that pointing up was a gesture to God, he said to KOMO news. "I do that to give glory to my Heavenly Father, Jesus, something I actually feel is like He gives me the strength, He's the one that gives me these abilities in the first place."
The high school running back said he was very confused for the penalty call on Monday because he wasn't drawing attention to himself but rather to God. The gesture is a tradition he has done after every touchdown. No one has ever called him out for it so he was surprised by the referee's call during the semi-final playoff game against East Valley.
The player's father, a football coach, said faith and football stir up strong emotions, according to KOMO news. "[Y]ou are going to get a lot of opinions about that type of gesture," he said of his son's pointing up.
Tumwater's head coach, Sid Otton, believes the referee probably got the call right because according to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's rules, players cannot draw attention to themselves.
Celebrations are only allowed at the professional level but prohibited at the high school and college level.
Hastie said he will still point up but from the sideline.