Two Riverhead High School (New York) football players have been suspended for one day after instigating a mass re-enactment of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow’s kneeling in prayer, writes Steven Marcus at Newsday.
School officials claim that the estimated 40 students that had gathered in the hallway to make the gesture, which is called “Tebowing” and is named after the Denver Broncos player, created a potentially dangerous situation.
Tebow, who is Christian, has received national attention this season after turning around the Broncos’ season with a 7-2 record as the starting quarterback. As a tribute, many fans have adopted the “Tebowing” fad, whereby people kneel like Tebow in random places and then post the photos on the Internet.
Superintendent Nancy Carney insisted that the religious nature of the gesture has nothing to do with the suspensions.
“It causes a potentially unsafe situation with 1,500 people in the building,” Principal David Wicks said.
“If you have 40 kids kneeling down in the middle of a hallway, and God forbid a fire alarm goes off, they could potentially stop someone from getting to safety.”
School officials refused to name the suspended students, but Riverhead parent Ken Carroll announced that it was his 17-year-old twin sons that were suspended.
“I understand their position on safety,” Ken Carroll said.
“My only position is my sons telling me they weren’t told to stop. When . . . called, I told him I would speak to my sons and it would never happen again. They were only two of . . .  who did it, and they are the only ones being suspended. It doesn’t seem fair that they are being singled out.”
Carney warned the students who organized the event not to do it.
“There were two students who were insubordinate,” Carney said.
“That’s why those kids were suspended. I understand kids are kids and all of those things; the key piece here is that they want to maintain order at all times in our schools and hallways. It becomes disruptive when you have that many kids down the hallways.”
Football coach Leif Shay agreed with the way that the school dealt with the issue, saying:
“I think they handled it appropriately. It obviously was not appropriate.”