A high school student says that he was ejected from a football game for praising God in a touchdown celebration on the field. He also was reportedly banned from playing in the team's first state playoff game, but the team is appealing that decision.
After Pedro Banda, a student at Dysart High School in El Mirage, Arizona, scored a touchdown during a football game on Oct. 30, he put his hand in the air to thank God, KPHO reports.
According to the senior running back, the school ejected him for excessive celebration and told him that he would not be allowed to play in the first game of the playoffs.
“I was running to my brother who was also on the field, and I put my hand to my face mask and pointed up to the sky,” Banda told the news station.
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“I had no idea if it is a rule of him pointing to the sky, and it’s a thing him and his brother do,” Angela Franco, Banda's mother, said. “They always do it to thank God for everything they’ve been through. If it is a rule, I would have liked to have been informed of it.”
Banda’s family said that they will try to appeal the decision with the football coach’s support.
The football player shared video of his celebration on Twitter and wrote, “ My intentions were 2 praise God last night I didn’t think it would result in a ejection for praising my lord & savior.”
(Pedro Banda's Twitter post about his ejection from the game. Photo Credit: KPHO)
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According to a statement from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, bylaws of the organization state that ejections can be appealed for teams advancing in the state tournament. The Association also pointed to a second unsportsmanlike penalty as a reason for the ejection.
"The unsportsmanlike penalty given to #15 on the touchdown at 4:40 left in the game was his second of the game, which, by rule, is an automatic ejection," the statement read. "That is the reason he was ejected on the call. The call by itself would not warrant an ejection."
The decision on whether he will be able to play in the school's state football playoff game is expected to be made by the afternoon of Nov. 3, according to AZ Central. This is the first time the school has made it to the state playoffs since 1994.