ROOSEVELT, Utah — A high school football coach in Utah has suspended his entire football team because of off-field problems ranging from cyber bullying to ditching classes.
“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” coach Matt Labrum of Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, told Amy Donaldson of the Deseret News. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”
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After the team’s Friday night loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Labrum told the players he was concerned about their off-field behavior and that they needed to all turn in their jerseys and equipment — that there would be no more football until they earned the privilege to play.
Players said they were in shock.
But the coaches told them there would be a 7 a.m. meeting the next day where they could learn how to re-earn a spot on the team.
“We looked at it as a chance to say, ‘Hey, we need to focus on some things that are more important than winning a football game,’” Labrum told the Deseret News. “We got an emotional response from the boys. I think it really meant something to them.”
At Saturday’s team meeting, Labrum gave the players a letter titled “Union Football Character,” which outlined what they would have to do to get back on the team.
They were told to perform community service and attend study hall and a class on character development. They were also required to perform service for their own families and to write a report about their actions.
According to the Deseret News, most parents expressed support and gratitude for the coach’s action. So did the players, who are hoping to be suited up for Friday’s homecoming game against Emery High.