Roughly 36 million kids play organized sports each year, and there is no doubt that professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick have a major influence on them. Now one youth football team in Beaumont, TX, lost their season as a result of following the NFL player’s lead.
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, made national headlines during the National Football League’s preseason when he refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before games. He explained during a post-game interview that he intended to protest recent incidents of police brutality, saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
When the 11- and 12-year-old boys of the Beaumont Bulls approached their head coach, Rah-Rah Barber, saying that they wanted to take a knee before their next game, Barber and the Beaumont Bulls board agreed to support them.
News of the youngsters’ protest went viral and even Colin Kaepernick himself shared their story on social media. The Beaumont locals, however, were not quite as supportive.
The children and their coach began receiving criticism and even death threats in response to their political statement.
The team’s board, though concerned about the safety of the players, still claimed to stand behind the children. They issued a statement to local station KFDM, saying that they “will continue to support” the team.
Contrary to the board’s public statement, however, parents told Bleacher Report that the board had said that they would suspend the team and cancel their season if the protests continued.
Despite these threats, the young players told their coaches that they intended to kneel again before their next game.
“We can’t teach them to [quit],” said one coach who refused to discourage the players from protesting.
Just a few days later, the board suspended coach Barber. Outraged, the players did not attend their next practice.
“We are not practicing anymore, nor did we quit,” stated team parent April Parkerson. She added that the players would return only if the board reinstated coach Barber.
The head coach was not reinstated and the team disbanded.