The head coach of the Union High school football team in Utah has suspended all 80 football players for bad behavior off-field. Every one of the 80 teenagers were required to turn in their jerseys and helmets.
Head coach Matt Labrum is a second year coach of the high school football team. Labrum stated that the reason for the huge suspension was their off-the-field behavior. Some of the players were suspended because of cyberbullying other students, others were suspended for skipping class or being disrespectful to teachers.
Speaking with the Deseret News, Labrum stated, “We looked at it as a chance to say ‘Hey we need to focus on some other things that are more important than winning a football game.”
The coaches held a team meeting where they informed the players they would receive a letter titled, “Union Football Character.” In this letter, the actions they would have to take in order to earn their jersey’s back was laid out for them.
According to the “Union Football Character”, the players can only earn their jerseys back by completing community service, taking a class on character development and helping their own families. They will also be required to write reports about the steps they have taken to improve themselves.
Labrum stated, “We must earn the opportunity to have the honor to put on our jerseys every week.” He went on to add that, “We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going.”
“We felt like we needed to make a stand.”
Jenn Rook is the mother of Karter who is a sophomore on the team. She said, “They were in the locker room for a really long time. They came out and there were tears. Those boys were wrecked.”
“My son got in the car really upset and said, ‘First of all there is no football team. It’s been disbanded.”
Labrum explained, “We got an emotional response from the boys. I think it really meant something to them, which was nice to see that it does mean something. There was none of them that fought us on it.”
The cyberbullying incident was one the coaches felt they couldn’t overlook. One student had gone to the guidance counselors at the school and reported that he was being harassed and bullied by the football teams on a site called ask.fm.
Coach Labrum revealed that he met with the student who was being bullied and apologized to him. Labrum said, “We were pretty open with the players about what we’d heard. We don’t want that represented in our program.”
“I think football molds character. We want to help our parents raise their sons. We want to be a positive influence. We want to be an asset.”
Principal Rick Nielsen stated that he supported the coach’s decision and looked at the situation as an opportunity instead of a punishment. “As I thought about it, I’ve got 100 percent confidence in our coaching staff.”
“They are just excellent men. Sometimes we do think we’re bigger than the game.
Jenn Rook admitted that at first she was upset with the coach’s decision until her son explained why the football team was suspended. She went on to say that she now supports the suspension.
Rook stated, “I do support it. 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.”
Jeremy Libberton who’s son Jaden is a junior on the football team weighed in on the suspension. “I thought, ‘Why is this a team type issue when there should be individuals that should be held accountable.’ But then I talked to several other parents, and there is really not a way to track this to specific people. I wish we could in this case.”
What do you think about the coach’s decision? How would you react if it was one of your children?
If you liked this article and want instant updates of all the celebrity stories, click the Subscribe button. To keep up with everything Kelly writes, follow her on Facebook and Twitter or connect on Pinterest. Find more by Kelly on her website.
©Kelly Cozzone, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. The first two sentences may be reposted with a link back to the original article.