The message, apparently, is this: We want kids to go out, enjoy playing sports, enjoy competing and try to win a state championship. We just don't want them to soak it in — that's outlawed.
That's the case with Cathedral High School and Matthew Owens, who scored what should have been the Super Bowl-winning touchdown over the weekend, capping off what should have been an undefeated season and securing what should have been the school's first-ever Super Bowl victory. However, as the Boston Herald reports, the touchdown was nullified because Owens raised his hand over his head for about one second in celebration as he ran toward the end zone (watch the play in the Video of the Day section). A new Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule, instituted this year, "bans any celebratory or taunting behavior by someone scoring a touchdown."
It might be safe to say that rule needs to be reworked. Despite the rule being followed to the letter of the law, Cathedral was obviously disappointed by the penalty call.
"[The game] got taken away from us, and what else can you do," Cathedral coach Duane Sigsbury told ESPN.com after the game. "If you're going to take away from a kid being excited because he just made the play of his life, shame on you."
It would be easy to pile on the official who threw the flag, but it likely wasn't easy for him, either. It is not up to the official to agree or disagree with the rulebook; it's simply his job to enforce it. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old's father, Kenneth Owens, as you can imagine disagreed with the call.
"He goes to a Catholic school where they are taught that their God is in the sky," Owens' father told the Herald. "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."
They're hurting because they're not robots, and they feel emotions, just like Owens felt as he experienced the glory that every high school athlete dreams of tasting once.
Should this have been called a penalty for celebrating/taunting?
Screen shot via Boston Herald
"I think he's misinterpreted sometimes."
–Rays manager Joe Maddon, speaking about Manny Ramirez
Red Sox fans won't have to live without Terry Francona in their lives, and that makes many of them very happy people.
Check out this video from the Boston Herald and see for yourself whether this action warranted a penalty that took away a touchdown.