There is a group of kids in In Cahokia, Illinois who are following the lead of Colin Kaepernick. A team of 8-year-old football players have decided to take a knee during the national anthem, copying Kaepernick's form of protest that he started in 2016 (and has seen other NFL players follow suit in a myriad of ways).
The team decided to take a stand after a conversation with their coach, Orlando Gooden. 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.
"One of the kids brought it up and asked, 'What's going on in St. Louis? Why are they demonstrating and rioting?'" Gooden said. "He's just an 8-year-old baby and he's asking me why they are doing it. I felt it was a teaching opportunity. As a coach and adult, it's your role to protect those that are weaker and to enlighten them when you can."
Gooden also insists that he did not have a hand in the protest.
"I know some of the people talk and speak as if I told the kids to turn around and that. I didn't," he said. "They brought up the subject and led the discussion. I feel like once a child shows interest in a topic, you have to talk to them and teach them what you can."
The decision, naturally, has been met with mixed reactions. Some have said that the team should be removed from their youth league, whereas others are praising Gooden for not shying away from difficult issues.
"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.