After a shocking verdict in St. Louis, these 8-year-olds protested on the football field.

A group 7- and 8-year-old peewee football players are the latest to stand up for their beliefs by kneeling on the field.

With the support of parents and coaches, a team of third-graders in Cahokia, Illinois, decided to take a knee during the national anthem before their Sunday afternoon game to protest the acquittal of Jason Stockley in the neighboring town of St. Louis.

Stockley, a white police officer, was found not guilty of gunning down black driver Anthony Lamar Smith after being recorded telling his partner, "We're killing this motherf**ker" minutes earlier.


Junior Commanches' Coach Orlando "Doc" Gooden told the Belleville News-Democrat that the protest was a "teaching opportunity" that arose after one of the 8-year-old players asked him about the demonstrations taking place in St. Louis.

"As a coach and adult, it’s your role to protect those that are weaker and to enlighten them when you can," he said. The team got the idea to kneel for the anthem during a practice for Sunday's game.

The gesture was met with hostility in some conservative media outlets. RedState's Teri Christoph framed the demonstration as something parents now "have to fear."

"Fair warning to parents: not only do we have to worry about what our kids are learning at school, seeing on the internet, watching on TV … we have to fear indoctrination via sports teams, even at the youngest ages."

On Fox and Friends, the LIBRE Initiative's Rachel Campos-Duffy affirmed the players' right to free speech, while blasting the protest as disrespectful to veterans.

"They absolutely do have the right to do this, but we have the right to get on TV and say this is shameful."

In a post-game interview, Gooden rejected the suggestion that he forced the kids to kneel or that he suggested they turn away from the flag.

"I know some of the people talk and speak as if I told the kids to turn around and that. I didn’t," he told the BND. "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."

"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."

The team modeled their demonstration after former San Francisco Giants quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice last season continues to reverberate through the NFL.

Before an August pre-season game against the New York Giants, nearly a dozen Cleveland Browns players kneeled and prayed during the anthem.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

"The United States is the greatest country in the world. It is because it provides opportunities to citizens that no other country does," Browns tight end Seth DeValve, the first known white player to take a knee in protest, told ESPN. "The issue is that it doesn't provide equal opportunity to everybody."

Despite hoping to play this season, Kaepernick remains unsigned by all 30 NFL teams. The movement he started, however, continues to spread — to players of all ages.

"What I teach my kids is love, integrity, honesty, fairness, respect and boundaries," Gooden told St. Louis' Fox2Now.

Thanks to an example set by one of their idols, a few dozen third-graders are getting a lesson in football — and in exercising their rights.  

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less