A high school football coach in Roosevelt City, Utah, suspended the entire football team because of their "lack of character." After being told by the school's guidance counselor that some players were bullying a student on Ask.Fm, head coach Matt Labrum was "moved to action." Since the website allows users to ask questions anonymously, the coach had no way of knowing which player was responsible and chose to address the entire team about not only the bullying but a general lack of respect displayed by the team off-the-field.
"It had gotten to a new level," Labrum told the Deseret News, saying that the coaches had been hearing about players skipping classes and talking back to teachers. "We felt like [they] weren't respecting the teachers, what they were trying to do inside the school, other people's time. Overall, our program wasn't going where we wanted it to go. We weren't reaching the young men like we wanted to reach them."
So, Lebrum and his fellow coaches gathered the players in the locker room after Friday's game and told them to turn in their jerseys and equipment. "We said, 'We've got to make a change,'" the coach explained. "We were pretty open with (the players) about what we'd heard. We don't want that represented in our program. … Whoever it is (doing the bullying), we want to help get them back on the right path." The coaches told the team that they would not be allowed to play football again until they had earned the privilege, and outlined a plan through which they could do so.
During the meeting on Friday night, the coaches presented the 80 young men with a letter entitled "Union Football Character":
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.
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.
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