Fed up with poor grades and reports of disrespect and cyberbullying, a high school football coach in Utah took a drastic step recently -- he suspended the entire team.
Following Union's (Roosevelt, Utah) 40-16 loss to Judge Memorial (Salt Lake City), Union coach Matt Labrum told the team that each of the boys would have to earn the right to play the next game.
“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going," Labrum told the Deseret News. "We felt like we needed to make a stand.”
On Saturday, one day after the loss to Judge Memorial, Labrum gave each of the players a letter outlining the steps they needed to take to be reinstated. The tasks included attending all practices and completing an individual service project. The players also had to memorize this quote and recite it to one of the coaches:
"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, by choice, courage, and determination."
School administrators, as well as most parents, supported the decision. Jenn Rook, whose son is a sophomore on the team, told the Deseret News that at first she was skeptical of the suspensions, but upon learning what led Labrum to make the decision, she came to understand his thinking.
"I do support it," Rook said. 'These boys are not going to be hurt by this. It’s a good life lesson. … It’s not a punishment. I see it as an opportunity to do some good in the community.”