Suspending the Team

October 4th, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

A high school football coach takes a stand against bullying, disrespect and academic underperformance.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Doing the right thing can be difficult, especially when doing so goes against popular opinion. Matt Labrum, head coach of Roosevelt, Utah’s Union High School football team, made a bold move by suspending all 80 players when he learned of widespread problems among his team, including academic underachievement, disrespecting teachers and cyberbullying.

In a letter to the team, as reported by Utah’s Deseret News, the team’s coaching staff told the players they could earn back the right to play in upcoming games by participating in community service activities, taking character-improvement classes and attending extra study-hall sessions. The letter read, “The lack of character we are showing off the field is outshining what we are achieving on the field. We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow through adversity and success, on and off the field.”

According to KSL.com, Labrum was aware that some of his players were displaying attitude problems and were struggling academically, but when he found out that some members of the team were bullying another student via social media, he put his foot down.

And, in a surprising twist, this football fan-filled town supported his decision, according to CBS. There were no reported angry phone calls from players’ parents, complaining about their kids having to do community service. Ed Winn, whose son Landen is a senior on the team, told KSL, “We think building the team, building good character will make good men out of them.”

Do you support Coach Labrum’s decision to suspend the entire team in order to teach a lesson in character, even if not every player was at fault? Weigh in here.