Viewpoint: When is a penalty justified? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Viewpoint: When is a penalty justified?

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High school football referees don't put up with unsportsmanlike conduct on the football field, and that's a good thing. But sometimes they can go too far.

Young players shouldn't be allowed to dance around and draw attention to themselves like so many self-absorbed millionaire professional athletes. They need to learn to win and lose with class.

But what happened to a Fitzgerald High School player recently was a shame.

R. J. Davis scored a touchdown for the Purple Hurricanes and for just a brief second or two pointed toward the sky. He wasn't celebrating his own achievement. He was giving thanks to God, but the refs assessed his team a 15-yard penalty.

People who know R. J. say he's a good kid and a good Christian, a humble guy who would never do something to show up an opposing team. Of course, officials need to follow the rules, but this is one case where they should have shown a little restraint.

We wish the refs had kept their flags in their pockets, but we can't say enough about the folks in Fitzgerald who want to make sure R. J. knows he didn't do anything wrong. They made up T-shirts they plan to wear to Fitzgerald games that say "to God be the glory."

We say good for R. J. for sticking up for what he believes in and good for his friends and neighbors for supporting a good young man.