The father of a high school football player in Florida who was penalized for saying a brief end zone prayer stood up for his son in front of a national television audience on Sunday morning.
But Fort Myers resident Bob Turner did something even more noteworthy at the same times.
The controversy erupted last Friday when Turner’s son, Sam, scored his first career touchdown for Fort Myers High School, then celebrated by kneeling briefly with his hands in the air in honor of a teammate who died in a drive-by shooting.
The action drew an almost instantaneous penalty flag from an official, who considered the prayer excessive celebration meant to draw attention to the scoring player.
On Fox News Sunday, Bob Turner said his action was anything but that.
“I was very proud of Sam, he wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself at all,” Bob Turner told “Fox and Friends.” “It was just a matter of a few seconds.”
Turner said the kids who know his son agreed.
“All his teammates saw it, and really had his back throughout this,” he said.
But Turner declined to criticize the referee who threw the flag, noting that his son’s principal agreed that technically a delay of games, even a minor one, is cause for a penalty.
“As Christians, we have to honor people who are competent,” he said.
A Florida High School Athletic Association official told Fox that the penalty was not for prayer itself, but the rule was intended to prevent showboating.
Regardless, Bob Turner said his son’s prayer – and the controversy that grew around it – really should just draw attention to the greater tragedy, that his son’s friend’s life was taken so young.
“We’re fighting for the right to pray, but the biggest oppression was the death of Sam’s teammate in a drive-by shooting,” he said.
“Those are the things we need to fight for.”
And fight like Turner did — like adults.
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