A football team of 11 and 12-year-old boys in southeast Texas is having its season cancelled for taking a knee during the National Anthem.
On September 10, the Beaumont Bulls senior team, comprised of 11 and 12-year-old middle-school kids, sprinted onto the field. After huddling with their coaches, the boys gathered in a straight, single-file line. And as Beyonce’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” started to play from the speakers at Beaumont’s Ozen High School, the players and coaching staff got down on one knee.
They didn’t know what would come of the protest. They didn’t know their head coach would be suspended for the rest of the season two weeks later. One player thought there “was gonna be some hating,” but that was about it.
The protest went viral, and along with it came threats—teams threatening not to play them, the Beaumont Bulls board threatening to cancel the boys’ season and people threatening the childrens’ and coaches’ lives.
The team had received permission from the football league to protest during the anthem. After taking a knee before a game in early September, the young boys and their families began receiving death threats. Through it all, the Bulls—these 11 and 12-year-olds—continued to protest. Initially the league and the team’s executive board stood behind the coaches and the young boys. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the team’s executive board told the team they were no longer allowed to protest. The young boys and the coaches, still feeling strongly about the cause, continued to kneel during the national anthem before games. The executive board then immediately suspended head coach Rah-Rah Barber and ultimately cancelled the team’s season.