BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — A Southeast Texas youth football team that received publicity and threatening messages after player protests during the national anthem ended its season early amid strife among coaches and parents.
The president of the team’s predominantly black executive board, Seterria Anderson, told the Beaumont Enterprise that the Beaumont Bulls disbanded because the team of 11 and 12-year-olds no longer had enough members after several players quit. Three weeks ago, the team’s board removed the head coach amid fallout over the protests, and some players then stopped coming to games.
The Bulls were among players across the U.S. who followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest.
Strife among the Bulls’ leadership, coaches and parents started after players first decided to kneel during the anthem at a Sept. 10 game to protest social injustice.
Anderson said coach Rah-Rah Barber was removed after creating “a hostile mood” at a team meeting and trying to divide the team by singling out and pressuring players who decided not to kneel at the Sept. 17 game.
Fourteen of the 19 players took a knee during the anthem before that game, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Three of the coaches and five players stood, linking arms in solidarity.
But parent April Parkerson disagreed with how Anderson characterized what has happened with the team. Parkerson — who was banned from practices because of what Anderson called “out of line” behavior — said that the board ended the season because of the protests. Parkerson said that after Barber’s removal, some of the team’s players stopped attending practices or games.
“We are not practicing anymore, nor did we quit,” Parkerson said.
In a statement after the first protest, the team’s board said it supported the players’ “silent and peaceful” action.
Since the season’s early ending was publicized, “people from all over the world” have called and sent Anderson hate mail.
“They don’t know we’re predominantly an all-black organization,” she said.