As protests continue in St. Louis in the wake of the acquittal of a white ex-police officer who shot and killed a black man in 2011, a youth football team in a nearby suburb took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday.
It seems Colin Kaepernick is having an affect on even 8-year-old football players. Every player on the Cahokia Quarterback Club football team (8 and under) took a knee during the national anthem before a game on Sunday. They “protested” while kneeling away from the flag, according to a local St. Louis news station. In Kaepernick’s absence, some other NFL players have been staging anthem protests, including the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett and the Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch, who have declined to stand up, and the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, who has been raising a fist. After getting a sack in Sunday’s Seattle-San Francisco game, Bennett staged another demonstration.
In an interview with the coach, Orlando Gooden said that one of the kids asked him if he saw people protesting and rioting in St. Louis. He said yes and asked the kid “Do you know why they’re doing it?”
Coach Gooden said the player responded, “Because black people are getting killed and nobody’s going to jail.” He decided to take the moment as a teaching lesson and explaining to them about that and other situations that have happened in the country.
Several people on social media were outraged by decision commenting on KTVI’s Facebook post:
“Brainwashing little kids…I would tear my kid up if he didn’t stand for the National Anthem. And if he had that coach he would be out of football and into hockey.”
“This coach does NOT have the right to teach other peoples’ children his own beliefs and then encourage them to follow, or encourage by allowing. Eight year olds don’t need to learn this. Hopefully someone will teach them more respect than the coach did! Just wrong!”
All the parents of the players supported their kids taking a knee, the station said, but a Facebook post by Gooden’s wife was hit with some backlash.
“As long as I have support of my parents and team, I’m perfectly fine,” the coach told KTVI, “and I’m covered under the First Amendment to peacefully protest and assemble.”
With that, all 25 players took a knee during the national anthem at Little Devil’s Field.