An Arizona high school football player who was ejected from a game for praising God after scoring a touchdown will not be suspended from an upcoming playoff game according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association who overturned 17-year-old Pedo Banda’s one-game suspension.
Banda is a senior at Dysart High School and is the football team’s running back. After scoring a touchdown onFriday’s game against Glendale, he did something he said he always does.
“I put my hand up to my face mask, and I pointed to the sky and I looked up for about four seconds,” he said.
Apparently, Banda’s praise was enough to get him ejected from the game for “excessive celebration”.
The decision to overturn the suspension means Banda will be able to play on Friday at Dysart’s first playoff game in decades.
The AIA posted the following statement on their website:
After review of the video and meeting with the school, player and his family, the call that resulted in the ejection of the Dysart High School player on 10/30/2015 has been overruled.
After receiving an earlier penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and several verbal warnings from the officials for taunting the opposing team, the player was called for violating the excessive celebration rule (AIA, Rule 9.5.1.A & C Penalty – The second unsportsmanlike foul results in disqualification).
“Within the context of the game, we understand the mindset of the officials. It was a cumulative effect and the student-players gesture precipitated an additional flag for what they perceived as taunting, not as a faith gesture,” said Gary Whelchel, State Commissioner of Officials.
However, after reviewing the entire game video and meeting with the student-player, the Appeal Committee has decided to give the student the benefit of the doubt and overturn the call. The Committee stated that they did not find that specific action met the “excessive” or “prolonged” rule. This decision, negates the ejection and will allow the Dysart player eligibility to participate in upcoming games and tournaments.