A youth football team from Texas saw their coach fired and had their football season cancelled for taking a knee during the National Anthem.
The New York Daily News reports that within days of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick staging his protest against police brutality by taking a knee when the anthem is played, the 11- and 12-year-old players of the Beaumont Bulls football team came and told their coaches that they wanted to do the same.
So on Sept. 10, after getting permission from league officials, the staff and students of the Beaumont Bulls kneeled before their game. They handily beat their opponents 27-0, and garnered national attention for their demonstration.
11 & 12 y/o Beaumont Bulls football team in TX asked their coaches if they could kneel. All 22 players joined in. pic.twitter.com/PoBiCvPnRE
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 10, 2016
Initially, the executive board of the team and the league issued strong statements of support backing the boys, but then, there was an abrupt about face.
With very little explanation, and despite previous support, the Beaumont Bulls students, staff, and parents were told by the e-board not to take a knee in their following game on Sept. 17. The team defied the request and did it anyway. Again, they won their game. The News reports that the boys were scheduled to have a bye the following week. During that time, the board decided to suspend Coach Rah-Rah Barber for the remainder of the season, allegedly because he “removed a player and coach from the team” and ”an improperly distributed text message”—not the protests.
After Coach Barber’s termination as well as the resignation of Coach Alfred Dean in protest, the middle schoolers again protested by not attending their next practice until Coach Barber was reinstated.
The all-black executive board then cancelled the rest of the season. So the Beaumont Bulls, in spite of paying fees for a full season, and being in the league playoff race, had no more football.
Daily News writer Shaun King asks, “What lessons does this teach the kids? What has it taught them about their right to protest? What has it taught them about quitting or playing through adversity?”
King reports that Kaepernick himself has reached out in support of the young boys, and, that since the San Fran QB started his protest, “in 34 states, with at least 44 high schools, 21 colleges, and two youth sports leagues, brilliant, bold, courageous young student athletes—ranging from football players to cheerleaders to volleyball players and marching bands have all taken a knee during the Star Spangled Banner to protest police brutality and racial justice in America.”