Beaumont youth football team's season ends early following kneeling protest

The Beaumont Bulls youth football organization cancels the senior teams season

BEAUMONT - The Beaumont youth football team whose National Anthem protest went  viral in September is no longer playing together due to a lack in players and coaches.

The 11 and 12 year-old senior team's season was officially canceled in early October due to a lack of participation according to the league's athletic director DeCarlos Anderson, Sr.

Following the team's kneeling protest which generated nationwide controversy when word of it spread on social media Anderson said two assistant coaches and five players expressed discomfort with the protest.

"We've been getting a lot of hate mail," Anderson said. "We are an African-American board. Our membership is diverse. It's not a race thing. 

Head coach Rah-Rah Barber then had another coach tell those coaches that they were no longer needed and relieved them of their coaching duties according to Anderson.

"The athletic director is the only one who has the authority to remove an assistant or head coach," Anderson said. "He tried to remove an assistant coach and child from his team because he didn't have the same beliefs that he had... in terms of the protest."

Coach Barber was suspended of his coaching duties on September 25.

But Barber said he didn't remove the coach of his duties but admits he did have a disagreement with an assistant coach about the protest. 

Coach Barber said he was initially supported by Anderson and the organization but was later suspended because of public pressure on the organization stemming from the protests. 

"I was very transparent with players, parents and the organization when getting permission to do the protest," Barber said. "If I forced them to protest and forced them to do things they didn't want to do, would you think the parents would have followed me?"
 
The former coach said initially he educated the players on the meaning of taking a knee. After the first game where players protested, Barber said he asked players if they wanted to lock arms like the Seattle Seahawks. He said five players chose to lock arms and the rest of the 22 player team decided to take a knee.
 
Barber said many of the parents and players stopped coming to practice and games protesting his wrongful suspension, a statement Anderson agrees with. 

The lack of participation immediately following Coach Barber's dismissal caused the size of the team to drop from more than 20 to 15 for the teams last played game on October 1 Anderson said.

The league requires at least 13 players on a team.

After that loss, less than five players showed up to practice the following Monday forcing the organization to cancel the remainder of the season Anderson said.

A cancelation that disappoints parent April Parkerson. 

"I feel like the players and coaches were robbed of the opportunity to win a championship along with their right to continue a peaceful protest which brought awareness to the issues that continue to plague southeast Texas," Parkerson said. 

She said the team, which boasts a 4-2 record, received a lot of public scrutiny after their initial protest in September.  

"It obviously makes me sad and disappointed," Parkerson said. "It just adds more fuel to our passion. We know we were doing the right thing."

Following the season's cancelation the team's website showed there were three games left on the season schedule.

The Beaumont Bulls, which is a predominantly black organization, consists of five different football teams for various ages and four levels of drill teams and cheerleaders according to their website.

(© 2016 KBMT)


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