Last week, Matt Labrum, the head coach of the Union High School football team in Roosevelt, Utah suspended all his players. He didn’t pull them because of the quality of play on the field and it was not because of a particular incident that happened off the field. Coach Labrum suspended all 41 varsity and junior varsity players on the team because of a general lack of good character. There was one particular incident of cyber-bullying (although the individual offenders could not be identified) but it was a generally pervasive culture of skipping classes, slipping grades and an attitude of disrespect toward teachers that prompted the second year coach to fire the entire team.
You might expect the next chapter in the story to be wailing child athletes, a wave of this-is-unfair-it-wasn’t-my-son screaming parents followed by school administrators diving for cover, leaving a young football coach all alone to explain why character matters more than a game. If that is what had happened next, no one would be telling this story outside of Roosevelt, Utah. But that is not what happened.
Sure some kids complained to their parents, but the parents and the school administration supported the coach. Instead of becoming defensive and focusing on each individual injustice thrust on a single athlete (which were almost certainly there to focus on), they rallied together to send the right message to the team, the school, the community and now it seems to the whole world. In one small town in Utah, the parents, teachers and football coaches are acting together to teach a life lesson that will last far longer than anything that has ever happened on a football field. Let this be a lesson to us all.
Here are some links to the story in the Deseret News and on CBS News, and here is the text of the letter Coach Labrum sent to his team:
Gentlemen, we are not pleased with how our football brothers are representing our family, school, community, alumni, family and yourselves. It is a privilege to play this wonderful game! We must earn the opportunity, to have the honor to put on our high schools jersey each Thursday and Friday night! 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. We want a team that others want to associate themselves with and support; winning isn’t the most important criteria for that to happen.
Humbleness, thankfulness, humility, respect, courage and honor are much more important than winning ballgames! We can achieve both if we start to act with others’ feelings in mind and focus on how we can make someone else’s day instead of just wrapped up in ourselves. WHEN WE ARE WORKING ON THIS AND ACHIEVING THIS WE WILL BE MOLDING OUR CHARACTER IN A POSITIVE WAY! Right now we are way off as a collective group. We want change and are going to make changes now.
As of tonight we are no longer playing football until we meet certain criteria!
TURN YOUR JERSEYS IN NOW!
Saturday: 7:00 a.m. electing captains “Attitude Reflects Leadership” — Remember the Titans.
Monday: 3:30 we will be doing a service project during practice time, come prepared to work, then we are all required to attend the Cougar Legend Banquet. Find ways to serve during this event.
Tuesday: We will be performing more service in lieu of practice.
Wednesday: Study Hall begins at 3:30 and we better have specific items to work on. We will be in there for the duration of practice. You must have enough work for 2 hours.
Criteria to EARN jersey back for Friday’s Game
1) Attend all practices that we have planned and any others that may come up.
2) Be on time and totally prepared
3) No F’s or discipline problems
4) Do an individual service project for your family, give me a typed report of it and pictures and have your parents sign it. (Due Wed. before study hall)
5) Memorize and pass this quote off to one of the coaches at some point during study hall
“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.”
If you meet ALL criteria by Wednesday night, you will have earned the privilege to play in the games on Thursday and Friday. If you fail then you will miss this week’s game.
2 CommentsAdd a Comment
love it. i am in complete support of the coach and am really impressed that the administration, teachers, parents, town, got behind and supported the coach who was doing the right thing. if only there were more out there to stand up for what most of us believe in. it starts with one person. one coach.
I agree, Aaron. The coach taking the stand was impressive, but the support he got was truly remarkable.
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