A Texas youth football team known to “take a knee” has been forced to halt its season after too many withdrew their participation in the aftermath of their protest gesture.
On September 12, Breitbart Texas reported that coaches and players for a Texas youth football team took a knee during the national anthem. They said they were doing so “to protest violence against black youth.” A photographer said one of the coaches asked him to take a photo of the silent protest. He said the team members wanted to get people talking about ending gang violence and “officer involved crimes,” reported the local ABC news affiliate. The players said they knelt instead of sitting down on September 10 because they respect the military and others who have lost their lives for America’s freedom.
“We’ve been getting a lot of hate mail,” DeCarlos Anderson, Sr., the league’s athletic director said, reported 12NewsNow.com. “We are an African-American board. Our membership is diverse. It’s not a race thing.”
The head coach was suspended after community outcry. Coach Rah-Rah Barber says that some of the players stopped playing because they were upset he was suspended by the league–not about the protest. The local media outlet reported that Barber said the organization initially supported him but he was later suspended after public pressure.
The league’s athletic director told the Beaumont Enterprise that Barber pressured players who decided not to kneel at the Sept. 17 game.
Coach Barber said, “I was very transparent with players, parents and the organization when getting permission to do the protest,” reported 12News. He added, “If I forced them to protest and forced them to do things they didn’t want to do, would you think the parents would have followed me?”
Players and parents who were upset about the controversy stopped showing up for practices and games. The number of players dropped from more than 20 to 15, Barber told 12NewsNow.com.
“It obviously makes me sad and disappointed,” parent April Parkerson said. “It just adds more fuel to our passion. We know we were doing the right thing.”
Breitbart Sports reported that several NFL players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem on September 11–the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. They were protesting the “injustice in America” and oppression of blacks. Dolphins running back Arian Foster; wide receiver Kenny Stills; safety Michael Thomas; and linebacker Jelani Jenkins participated in the protest.
The reaction to athletes protesting in this way has been mixed.
Model-actress Kate Upton condemned the NFL players’ acts on social media, calling such gestures a “disgrace” but “even more horrific” on the anniversary of September 11, Breitbart News reported.
“I think every American has the right to say and do whatever it is that freedom offers us,” Las Vegas singer Wayne Newton responded. “However, during the national anthem, is not the time or the place to show that kind of thing. I have no tolerance at all for it. I support the right to say what they believe and how they believe it, but that’s the wrong place and time,” reported Breitbart News.
Newton was directing his message to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players who are engaging in the protest by not standing when the national anthem is played.