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Parents mad after football team takes knee during national anthem

ETTRICK, Va. -- The controversy surrounding NFL star Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the National Anthem has reached a Virginia youth football league, infuriating some parents on both sides of the issue.

This past weekend, several players with the Ettrick Minors football team, consisting of 8 and 9 year-old players, took a knee during the National Anthem in a game against Chesterfield's Bengals Minor.

A snapshot of the gesture quickly spread on social media and caused heated debate among parents, coaches and the Ettrick Athletic Association.

Several military families called the move offensive and inappropriate for young players.

"I let people know I was upset," said one Chesterfield parent, who asked not to be identified for fear of backlash.

"If somebody had been in the stands in front of me and they had not stood up, that would have been OK. But using that platform with your players to send a message, that is disturbing," said the parent.

Disciplinary action was taken by the Ettrick Athletic Association, according to Tim Gallagher, the Commissioner of the Chesterfield Quarterback League.

"The Chesterfield Quarterback League stands behind the disciplining of coaches," Gallagher said.

RELATED: Youth football team takes knee during national anthem

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Gallagher said he believed the incident was isolated, and not a reflection of the Ettrick Athletic Association.

Former Ettrick Assistant Coach Jayvon Campbell said he would step aside because of the politics involved in the situation, not because he was asked to resign.

Campbell, who is a military veteran, said he never intended to send a message.

"We're out here for the kids and we believe in what we're telling them as far as football is concerned," Campbell said. "I would never step on another parents shoes or step out of bounds."

Campbell also argued the picture, which only captured the moment at the beginning of the National Anthem, was misleading. He said the players took the knee after the captain of the team and another assistant coach bent down to adjust a football uniform. He said the rest of the players followed the captain's lead.

RELATED: 10 Biggest sports protests of the past 20 years

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10 biggest sports protests of the last 20 years

1996:  Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf protests the National Anthem

Before Colin Kaepernick, NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was the athlete who made news for protesting during the pregame playing of the national anthem. 

The flag is "a symbol of oppression, of tyranny," he said. "This country has a long history of that. I don't think you can argue the facts." 

(BRIAN BAHR/ALLSPORT)

2001: Shawn Green doesn't play on Yom Kippur

Beginning in 2001, then-star outfielder Shawn Green -- a Jewish player -- made it clear that he would not play on Yom Kippur, which often coincided with his teams' playoff chases.

(Reuters)

2004: Delgado sits for 'God Bless America'

In 2004 and 2005, in protest of the wars the United States was engaged in, Carlos Delgado began to remain in his team's dugout during the seventh-inning playing of "God Bless America."

"I never stay outside for 'God Bless America,'" Delgado said. "I actually don't think people have noticed it. I don't (stand) because I don't believe it's right, I don't believe in the war."

Delgado dropped his protest upon being traded to the Mets before the 2006 season.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/FILE RFS/ME/GN)

2010: Suns wear 'Noche Latina' jerseys in light of Arizona's immigration law

In 2010, Arizona passed strict immigration law that, some argued, encouraged racial profiling. In response, the Suns welcomed their Hispanic fans by donning "Los Suns" jerseys.

 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2014: NBA players wear hoodies for Trayvon Martin

After Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in February 2012, various NBA players took to social media to post pictures of themselves donning hoodies -- which Martin was wearing at the time of his death -- to bring awareness to the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

2015: Missouri football team backs hunger strike on campus

In 2015, members of the Missouri campus engaged in a hunger strike, targeted toward forcing school president Tim Wolfe to step down after years or promoting a racist environment. The football team then halted all team activities until Wolfe was removed. He resigned on Nov. 9, 2015.

(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

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"If you see the picture, the actual picture the coach took, we're all standing up, all the coaches are standing up," Campbell said. "No one would ask kids to act, if adults weren't going to act as well."

The Ettrick Athletic Association would not specify the disciplinary action taken, but some Chesterfield parents said they were relieved the issue was taken seriously.

"The flag stands for something very important and when the Anthem is playing and you're not standing, it stands out," one parent added.

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