Amazing Utah Football Coach Suspends Entire Team Because They Were Acting Like Entitled Jerks

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shutterstock_154579229__1380102510_74.134.205.46THIS is how you do it. I’ve always had this romantic notion of football (Because I have seen BOTH Rudy AND The Blind Side!) and I’ve also had this negative notion of football, thanks to growing up with jerky football players and horrific events in the last few years that made me think that football spawns a culture of violence. But my faith this morning is restored thanks to our awesome reader Wendy who sent me this story about her local football coach who didn’t like some of his players off-the-field actions. Matt Labrum, the head football coach at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, had heard rumors that some of his players were bullying students on Ask.Fm, a website where people can ask each other questions anonymously. Teachers had also told him that they were concerned about some of the players skipping classes and disrespecting teachers inside the classroom. So after Friday night’s loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High School, coach and his staff gathered all the players into the locker room and informed them that there would be no more football, stripped the team of their equipment, and explained how they had to earn their football playing privileges back.

The first thing Coach Labrum did was meet with the teen who was being cyberbullied and offered an apology. From

“We said, ‘We’ve got to make a change,’” said Labrum, who met with the student who was bullied on Monday to offer an apology. “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.”

Then the coach informed his team that they would have to earn the right to play football back:

During Saturday’s team meeting, Labrum gave the suspended players a letter titled “Union Football Character,” explaining exactly what the boys would need to do if they wanted to earn their jerseys back.

Here is the full text of the letter:

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!


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.


your coaches

One of the best aspects of this story is that none of the parents of the players complained, and most of them rallied around the coaches in support. Labrum made this quote to the newspaper:

“I think football molds character,” Labrum said. “We want to help our parents raise their sons. We want to be a positive influence. We want to be an asset.”

I have decided I love this coach. I think he needs to go on tour to all high schools and teach them his ways. What an awesome example he is setting. And just like our reader, this story got me all teary-eyed this morning. I’d be honored if one of my kids was coached by a man like this.

(Photo:David Lee/shutterstock)


  1. Paul White

    September 25, 2013 at 9:21 am

    This is the sort of thing I’d like to see more extracurricular people do. I know football gets a lot of flack, but I’ve seen at least one drama program that would have benefited from this…

    • Shea

      September 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Speaking as a former drama geek, I agree with you. Most of my fellows were perfectly nice, respectful (as respectful as teenagers get) people, but man, the stories I could tell about those few divas…

  2. TngldBlue

    September 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Now THAT is a great man. He wins all the trophies!

  3. Emil

    September 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

    “Humbleness, thankfulness, humility, respect, courage and honor are much more important than winning ballgames!” Wow, I am impressed. I also can’t believe that none of the parents complained. Faith in humanity restored (for now).

  4. Blueathena623

    September 25, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Thank god!

  5. Meredith Bray

    September 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

    But…but…but…he didn’t say ANYTHING about Gawd!!!!!!!

    • Michelle Pittman

      September 25, 2013 at 11:35 am


    • Emmali Lucia

      September 25, 2013 at 11:39 am

      I know, especially coming from a high school in Utah I’m quite surprised and a little impressed.

    • Jordan

      September 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      Thank goodness!

  6. Miss Isis

    September 25, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Thank you for this very uplifting story! Really needed to have some faith restored with all the awful things going on lately. Great man indeed!

  7. Angela

    September 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I don’t know who I’m more impressed with- the coach, the school or the parents for all recognizing that the responsibility to raise decent human beings trumps sponsorships, championships, scholarships, ect.

  8. Cee

    September 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

    What an awesome role model! I’m glad a sports coach actually makes their players step up to the plate rather than spend his time turning a blind eye on their antics and stroking players’ ego.

  9. nikki753

    September 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    This gave me chills and made my day. (Including, as noted below, that this is all about building character without a hint of religion to it).

    One of my more distinct memories of high school was in PE class where students were running a mile for time on the upper gym 12 laps = 1 mile track. We were split into two groups and took turns running. Our quarterback was sitting on the bleachers heckling people who were running. And yes, it clearly wasn’t just misguided cheerleading. Out and out a-hole heckling people forced to run past him a total of 12 times. So I called him out and told him to shut up. So I got in trouble. What a toxic environment to put kids into during some critical years. I’m so glad to see someone who really cares about who these people turn out to be.

  10. Sara610

    September 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Steubenville coaches, are you listening?

  11. Guest

    September 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Is there such a thing as Coach of the Year? There should be.

  12. Kimberly

    September 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Wow. What character! *sniff, teary eyed too*

  13. Liz White

    September 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Great coach. Now if only the professional coaches could do the same thing with their offensive and miss guided players, we would all be on the right track.

  14. Keith Erickson

    September 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Bravo!! Well done coach. These days kids don’t expect to work for anything. It is good to see action taken. In the end they will probably be closer friends and a better team.

  15. Justme

    September 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I know plenty of coaches of strong character like this…I’m more impressed that he was able to get parents to support him in this endeavor!

  16. Rick Graham

    September 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    THIS MAN NEEDS A TROPHY. We need more like him.

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