Youth football coach Marcus Burkley knew there would be backlash if his players knelt during the national anthem. He just never thought it would be this severe.
When three members of Burkley’s all-black team took a knee during a Saturday night game in Bethel Park, Pa., people in the stands began shouting racial slurs at them, eventually becoming so aggressive that police were called to keep the peace, he said.
“Once they took a knee, you see cameras and people taking pictures,” Burkley, who is also African American, told WPXI. “And out of nowhere you just hear, ‘If the little n-word want to take a knee, they shouldn’t be able to play.’”
As the game proceeded, Burkley said, some of his 12- and 13-year-old players told him they heard the same thing on the field from the opposing team. He said neither he nor his Woodland Hills Wolverines had encountered anything like it in the two years they have played in the league.