A Florida high school football player was penalized for kneeling for a quick prayer in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.
According to The Blaze, Sam Turner, a senior at Fort Myers High School, was penalized for offering a word of thanks to the Lord and pointing his finger in the air. An official gave Turner’s team a 15-year penalty for “unsportsmanlike” conduct.
“I said ‘thank you, God, for this talent you’ve blessed me with,’” Turner told the News-Press. Turner explained that he also remembered JoJo Brunson in his prayer, a student who was killed in a drive-by shooting last year.
Turner says he’s mostly received support following the incident.
“I use my faith as a platform for my talents. My teammates are giving my tons of support,” he said. “They all know I’m strong believer, even though it cost us 15 yards.”
The National Federation of State High School Associations’ rules allows an official to penalize a player who behaves in such a way that causes attention on him or herself.
National Football League policy, however, allows such action as long as the player is exercising his faith.
“I saw the flag and I was so confused at first. I was like, ‘Are you seriously flagging me right now? What did I do wrong?’” he said. “Eventually the ref came up and talked to me and said I was trying to bring attention to myself and I was trying to explain to him that that wasn’t the case at all. I wasn’t trying to bring attention to myself I was just trying to thank God.”
Fort Myers High School won the game, 49-0.
Publication date: November 4, 2014