An Illinois football team comprised of eight-year-old children sparked controversy last week when all the players took a knee during the national anthem in a protest reminiscent of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The incident took place during a youth football team organized by the Cahokia Quarterback Club before Sunday‚Äôs game in Belleville, Fox News Insider reported.
‚ÄúOne of the kids asked me if I saw [people] protesting and rioting in St. Louis,‚ÄĚ Coach Orlando Gooden told the local Fox affiliate. ‚ÄúI said yes. I said, ‚ÄėDo you know why they are doing it?‚Äô‚ÄĚ
According to Gooden, the player responded: ‚ÄúBecause black people are getting killed and nobody‚Äôs going to jail.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI felt like it was a good teaching moment for me to circle the team and have a meeting,‚ÄĚ the coach said. He told the team how Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem last season to protest poor treatment of black people in the United States and one of the youngsters asked if they could ‚Äúdo that.‚ÄĚ
Gooden told the kids that as long as they understood why they were kneeling, he would not stop them.
‚ÄúWhat I teach my kids is love, integrity, honesty, fairness, respect and boundaries,‚ÄĚ he said, claiming that the kids‚Äô parents all supported the protest and noting that his and the team‚Äôs rights are protected under the First Amendment.
Sure enough, the entire team dropped to their knee when the national anthem began playing, and while their backs were away from the American flag, Gooden claims that that was unintentional.
The reception on social media to the team‚Äôs protest has been mixed, with a post by Gooden‚Äôs wife attracting some negative comments.
‚ÄúMy child would not be on his knee!‚ÄĚ one angry user wrote. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm so sick and tired of this garbage! Parents get a handle on this nonsense now!‚ÄĚ
Another person opined, ‚ÄúThe coaches should be fired for allowing this!‚ÄĚ