8-year-old players take a knee for the national anthem

Ross Houston
September 20, 2017

A suburban St. Louis youth football team made up of eight-year-olds knelt during the playing of the national anthem just prior to kick off this past Sunday to protest the acquittal of a white former police officer who shot and killed a black man. However, turning their backs to the flag wasn't done on goal, Gooden said.

"As long as you know why you're doing it, I don't have a problem with any of it", the coach said.

A football team of 8-year-old boys in IL all took a knee as the national anthem played before their game this past Sunday.

The team chose to kneel in protest after a discussion about the days-long rioting in St. Louis, which was triggered by the controversial acquittal Friday of Jason Stockley.


Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, hasn't been signed by a team in 2017 following a season in which he drew national headlines for kneeling during the national anthem as a way to protest racial injustice. I felt it was a teaching opportunity. According to Gooden, the team came up with the idea on their own, and the Belleville News-Democrat reports that their parents supported the decision.

On Friday, a judge acquitted Stockley of first-degree murder, igniting days of protest and rioting in St. Louis.

The players' parents reportedly supported the coach's decision to allow the team to take a knee; however, a Facebook post from his wife reveals that there has been some backlash from other residents in the area. Many others have followed his lead, including National Football League players and athletes from other sports.

"One of the kids asked, 'Can we do that?'", Gooden explained.


When the anthem played during their game, the entire team took a knee and were positioned with their backs to the flag.

This sparked all members of the team-ages 8 and younger-to take a knee.

"I told them kneeling is a show of respect, not for those who broke boundaries - I support only peaceful protest - but for the innocent lives that have been touched by injustice", he said.


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