Did you hear about the Utah high school football coach who suspended his entire varsity team? The story is that coach Matt Labrum of Union High School was getting reports of his players cyber bullying a kid or kids and also that the boys on the team seemed to be feeling a little too entitled showing up late for classes and disrespecting teachers. After hearing the complaints about his team, Labrum decided to nip all of this behavior in the bud, so he had ALL the varsity players turn in their uniforms and suspended each and every one of them. In replace of practice he made them do community service and take a character building class along with focusing on studies and grades.
Apparently not all team parents were behind the coach feeling that ALL were being punished for the few, however even one of the team members interviewed felt that all in all the suspension was both deserved and a good thing. Hmmmm.....suspending an entire team for the acts of a few. Is this fair? Is this right? What about those boys playing for scholarships? What will this do to Unions football season? What will this do to Labrums job? As you can well imagine, the lady with a million opinions definitely has one on this.
While I love my football from pee wee league on up to professional, I have never been a huge fan of the mentality behind high school football. Lets face it in most places the football team rules the school and if the team is a winning one....parents, teachers, administrators and often times the entire town look the other way when the golden boys act up, act out or even break the law. There is this "boys will be boys" attitude and it is a free pass for them to behave anyway they want. In school the other kids are well aware of the food chain and football players are usually at the top of it. They can bully, misbehave, be disrespectful and not turn in a stitch of homework and still they are indestructible. This is why I have always had issues with huge chunks of school money going into sports instead of academics...but that is another blog for another time. So when I heard what this coach did, it gave me hope for the future of high school football.
Football and all team sports are great if they are coached well. Kids should be learning how to work both on the field and off the field as a team and learning as individuals to be their best at all times. They should also be taught good sportsmanship both on and off the field. They should also learn that the old adage of "It is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game," spills directly into life because once football is behind these kids, life is the game they will be playing. As Labrum said, it is an honor to put on your school team jersey and hit the field. An honor kids.....NOT a right! So when I heard that some parents were upset that their kids were being lumped in with the bad apples, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Yes, maybe scholarships are on the line and maybe both kids and parents lose a little prestige by not taking the field, but there is a much bigger lesson being taught here and I would think these parents would be standing strong behind this coach. Lesson #1 in a team....if one of you screws up it can directly effect everyone else. You are a team. One goes down and you all can go down. Lesson #2 good sportsmanship should not just be happening on the field but also in the halls of your school. You maybe popular but that doesn't make you above the rules. You are not entitled just because you wear your school colors. If anything....that should hold you to a higher standard of behavior. Disrespect, bullying and showing up for class when you see fit is not conduct befitting someone who represents their school.
Labrum in my opinion did it right and obviously as fast as this has blown up in social media....I am not the only one who feels this way. Holding these varsity players accountable for their actions and following through with consequences will likely be a lesson these young men will never forget. This also is setting an example for future players at Union, for coaches across the country and for high school football players everywhere. These boys obviously have a coach that not only cares about their skills on the field, he also cares about what life skills they are learning while on his team. In my opinion, high school sports could certainly use a whole lot more Labrums straight across the board. Good job Coach Labrum!
Well it is Friday and this ends another week. Hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend. See you again on Monday!