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HS team loses football championship when player raises arm in TD celebration (video)

Dec 6, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT


A Boston (Mass.) Cathedral High quarterback who raised his arm for two strides during a touchdown run was flagged for taunting, resulting in his team losing their state championship game. But now the QB’s father is saying that his son, Matt Owen, was simply thanking God by pointing to the sky, and that the penalty was unfair. Kenneth Owens has hand delivered a letter to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association asking for an explanation.

“He raised his hand because he knew was going to the pinnacle,” Kenneth Owens told the Boston Herald on Monday. “There was nothing dishonorable about the play. There was no doubt it was a touchdown. He gets 20 yards in — and he’s not thinking about the rule — and he just raised his hand.

“He handed the ball to the referee. He didn’t spike it. He goes to a Catholic school where they are taught that their God is in the sky. So I know when he raised his hand, he was thanking his Lord for what happened to him today. Football is a team sport. There’s lot of kids that are hurting today.”

But in the MIAA there is no appeals process, even when you kick it all the way to the Man Upstairs.

With the TD nullified, Blue Hills High went on to beat Cathedral in the Division 4A Super Bowl game, 16-12.

But the assigner of officials said the call was correct.

“It’s tough, but the official absolutely made the right call according to the letter of the law,” Joe Cacciatore told the Herald. “It says it right there in the rules that any attempt to draw attention to yourself, whether it is pointing the finger, raising a fist or anything like that, is a penalty. We’ve been instructed to call it when it happens, it’s zero tolerance now.”

Ah, I was waiting for the term “zero tolerance” to make its debut in this story. File this along with the first graders suspended for bringing a plastic knife to school to spread butter. Where’s our zero tolerance for blundering idiots? Taking common sense and individual judgement out of the equation is never a good idea.

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And besides, if the player was actually praising God as his father claimed, he wasn’t calling attention to himself, now was he?

Cathedral flagged down by Blue Hills [Boston Globe]

  1. skids003 - Dec 6, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Unfortunately, a line has to be drawn, and he stepped over it. If you let him do that, then when a Muslim scores a TD, you’d have to let him pray. So by the letter of the rule, there it is. Shouldn’t have done it.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:21 PM

      And the problem with that is…? What if a Jew scored? How about a Buddhist?

      By your reasoning then, every player who kneels and crosses his chest should have their points erased too.

      • skids003 - Dec 7, 2011 at 7:27 AM

        My point exactly. You get it!!

    • razorofoccam - Dec 7, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      the people that make rules such as these have no concept of the effort required to win a game like that.that kid went through a lot physically and mentally since his season began in August and with it culminating into a game winning touchdown, the emotion coursed through his body and he raised his arm for two seconds.You really think he was thinking about it? In my book, the kid is a winner.

    • sasquash20 - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:01 PM

      Are you kidding me. These sports governing body thinks they can change anything with these stupid rules. Shame on them.

      • commonsenseisuncommon - Dec 7, 2011 at 9:42 PM


  2. anotheryx - Dec 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    It’s just refs’ way of draw attention to themselves, born out of jealousy and misguided entitlement, nothing new.

    • idkwhich - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:46 PM

      How in the heck does the word ‘entitlement’ work its way into your rant? Let me guess… teabagger?

  3. koufaxmitzvah - Dec 6, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Obviously, G-d didn’t want Cathedral High to win the championship.

    He moves in mysterious fashion, folks.

  4. winkeroni - Dec 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    My eyesight isn’t too good and the quality of this video also isn’t too good. Perhaps he was flipping the entier defense off.

  5. bozosforall - Dec 6, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Typical Massachusetts idiot move. LMAO

  6. snotienose - Dec 6, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    How stupid can a school get? All the football players eligable to play next year should get together and protest or just not play next year and see how the school like that.

  7. snotienose - Dec 6, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    I guess you can’t taunt the other team cause it might make them feel bad.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:27 PM

      And we just can’t have football players with low self-esteem.

      “Paralyze each other all you want fellas and give each other concussions all day long, but please… don’t tease anyone.”

    • razorofoccam - Dec 9, 2011 at 4:54 AM

      good point snotie. You don’t want to get taunted, don’t let the other team score. I still think the time spent on legislating a rule like this would be put to better use on other issues that really are problems.

  8. charger383 - Dec 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    That is just BS. You can not act like you are happy because you did something good. I feel sorry for him.

    • sasquash20 - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      right on. All the work these kids put in for months every year gets thrown out the window on some faggy call.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 7, 2011 at 5:16 PM

        You mean Faggy like a cigarette, right?

        You, sir, are an idiot.

    • commonsenseisuncommon - Dec 7, 2011 at 9:47 PM

      Next up: You’ll be penalized three games for THINKING about how stupid these rules are as you cross the end zone!!! Begs the question: Is there any common sense out there?? This is insanity folks. No EXCESSIVE celebrating is fine, but this? WOW!!!

      Note to file: The other team must feel real good about this win! If I were on the team, I’d honestly give the trophy to the team that EARNED the WIN.

  9. stakex - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    The rule is pretty clear.. and he broke it. If a sport is going to have credability its rules cannot be open to interpritation by the refs and have to be followed exactly as they are writen. He was thanking god? Well good for him if thats his thing… but raising your arm to celebrate is not allowed and the refs made the right call.

    Now, thats not to say the rule isn’t idiotic. It is. A player should be allowed to celebrate so long as its not a clear taunt of the other team. But again, thats not what the rule says. So if you have an issue with this, your issue should be with the rule itself… and not the refs call, which was correct.

    • jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:25 PM

      Why can’t players taunt the other team? I’ve always thought that was just a completely idiotic rule.

      Football players live to destroy their enemy. Why do we insist they have to be nice about it. There is nothing stopping the other team from doing a little taunting in the other direction.

      We Americans take ourselves waaaaaaaaayyyyy too seriously these days.

    • sasquash20 - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      The rule is just dumb.

  10. mbuonpa - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    I have officiated HS football in Colorado for 21 years. Multiple State Championship games, including this year. That was a moronic call by an official who is taking himself entirely too seriously.

  11. berbes - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    ‘zero tolerance’ rules are what happens when you don’t allow dodge ball anymore…

  12. David Webb - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    So the team didn’t score on that play. I might be missing something, but they could have scored on the next play. Or the next. It looks like they lost because they didn’t score as many points as the other team at the end of the game.

    • commonsenseisuncommon - Dec 7, 2011 at 9:51 PM

      Somebody just drank some stupid juice!!! Go to bed stupid, and see if you can plug into reality after a good breakfast! Sonagun….WOW…..DUMB is pushing new limits!

  13. jdillydawg - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Football is becoming the stupidest sport ever. We love when guys smash each other, but now we call penalties when they “hit” too hard, or actually hit someone with the “intent” to hurt.

    We love when our team scores, and we’ll taunt the opposing fans in the stands all day long, but a little celebrating by a team member and we’ve crossed the line.

    Football is fast becoming a sport for idiots. And that makes me sad.

  14. idkwhich - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    I don’t know which is more ridiculous – the fact that he was flagged for raising his hand, or the excuse that he was praising a non-existent god over something as meaningless as a touchdown. Get a grip, kid.

  15. goddidthattohim - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    In his fathers words, “So I know when he raised his hand, he was thanking his Lord for what happened to him today.” Following that logic, the Lord must also be responsible for the subsequent penalty. That football player must have done something really bad for the Lord to be so mad at him. Probably masturbation.

    • idkwhich - Dec 7, 2011 at 12:13 AM

      Excellent point!

    • uncfsu133 - Dec 8, 2011 at 8:21 AM

      Sorry but what in the world are you talking about. The father was just stating the facts of what happened which was that his son was thanking God while he was scoring the game winning touchdown and that should not be a penalty. He did not say that God was responsible the touchdown, or God wanted his son to win because he is a Christian. Anyway that rule needs to go and the ref should be ashamed for calling it. Hopefully he realizes his mistake and gets better at his job.

  16. drakost - Dec 7, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    The current administration suffers from a sever illness.
    Can’t fix dumb.

    All joking aside does the administration realize it just took an athlete at the pinnacle of his joy and RIPPED it from him. No matter how obviously outlandish as the penalty is, this kid is going to in one way or another blame himself. What type of screwed up people are these people?

  17. ahemahem - Dec 7, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    The most intolerant faith group these days is atheists.

    • idkwhich - Dec 7, 2011 at 1:02 AM

      Would you put up with an adult having imaginary friends in any other scenario outside of the mainstream religions? No, you’d have them committed to a mental institution. And I think your point was destroyed by skids003′s comment – he’s a conservative Christian, talking about Muslims like that. Good try though!

    • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 7, 2011 at 5:18 PM

      I believe Atheists aren’t a faith group. Because, see, they don’t believe in Faith.

      They just happen to be.

  18. laserw - Dec 7, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    America needs to grow a set….

    In today’s America, we dumb our rules and standards down so we don’t offend anyone. Yet, somehow, someone still gets offended so we dumb down the rules some more.

    It has become increasingly apparent that offending Christians and white males are the only two areas that are sanctioned and protected.

    Taunting used to make people tougher, to rise above, to make a statement that they had overcome something. Now we prosecute taunting – as if those taunted are unable to overcome a thing as simple as a raised finger. I am amazed at how rapidly this society is being run and managed by wimps who think that the world is perfect, that people are perfect, and that everyone is born with an equal chance at the same life. Sometimes you learn so much more when you are faced with being the under dog and with strong parents, you overcome adversity as simple as a raised finger.

    I suppose in today’s world that if this player had come from an Islamic school, that penalty wouldn’t have been called since we protect Islamists like they are an endangered species.

    America – face it – your kids will be bullied – your kids will be taunted – and you ARE PARENTS who have to teach your children to stand up for themselves and to grow up!

    • klingonj - Dec 7, 2011 at 7:46 AM

      stop with your whining that Christians are some sort of victimized group. Its pathetic. so pathetic you have to bring muslims into the discussion like some 9 year old stating “johnny next door did something far worse than me”. Its your types that demanded zero tolerance.

  19. FIREBIRD - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Political correctness is killing this country! Kids do not know how to lose! And they are not allowed to be glad when they win! Winning and losing is part of life! Get used to it early and maybe when you’re an adult you can deal with the disappointments AND the victories that come your way. This was the State Championship! And a kid isn’t allowed to raise his arm FOR WHATEVER REASON????? We have lost our collective minds!

  20. anthonyborelli - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    This is another example of just why I left the PC capital of the nation for saner parts.

    Celebrating a good performance is not taunting. The “taunting” rules are insane, and designed – frankly – by losers who never had anything to celebrate themselves until they foisted this – and other – politically correct BULLYING tactics on the rest of us.

    Let the kids celebrate.


    Third Report

  21. christiansagainstnike - Dec 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    I hope that rule doesn’t make its way into basketball! We were giving high 5′s all the time and showing excitement. If you can’t be excited about your sport… why play?

  22. dilbert2 - Dec 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    This rule was put in several years ago to stop high school players from taunting or celebrating as the NFL was allowing it and the high school players picked up on it. They would spike the ball or throw it into the air and in some cases over a fence or really turn and taunt the other team which had led to many brawls..