Matt Labrum, a high school football coach in Utah, takes lack of character seriously, very seriously. In a move that shocked his team at Union High School, coach Labrum decided to suspend the entire team, all 80 players, due to the team’s poor off-the-field behavior.
Reports had come to coach Labrum that players had been cyber-bullying their peers, that many on the team were not doing well in class, and that a number of players had truancy issues. Labrum decided his team needed a wake-up call; they needed to earn “the privilege to play.”
In a letter passed out by coaches and obtained by the Deseret News, the coaches stated, “We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow throughadversity and success on and off the field. We want a team that others want to associate themselves with andsupport; winning isn’t the most important criteria for that to happen.”
The letter went on to spell out the five criteria each player must fulfill to get back on the team: they must make an effort to attend every practice; be on time to practice;receive no F’s or disciplinary problems in class; do an individualservice project that helps their families; and memorize a quote aboutgood character and recite it to a coach. Many have already earned their spots back on the team.
Coaches are often charged, whether fairly or otherwise, with cultivating character in the young men and women they teach. This fact is not lost on Labrum, “I think a lot of lessons were learned this week, (and) I think somewill be learned later in life. I think this is something thatwe’ll all remember.”