In some communities, high school football players can do no wrong. They are given perks at restaurants, slapped on the back in stores, and celebrated in every game and community event. We saw the disastrous effects of that kind of treatment in Steubenville, Ohio, last year.
But one local high school coach decided that his players had had enough of this kind of treatment and decided to serve them a plateful of humility instead. Disappointed with reports of his players skipping classes, disrespecting school staff, getting poor grades, and cyber bullying their classmates, Union High School football coach Matt Labrum made his players turn in their jerseys after last Friday’s game. He told all 80 players that they were indefinitely suspended and that they would need to earn their jerseys back.
"It’s not all about winning games," Coach Labrum told the Salt Lake Tribune. "This is about developing young men to go on and be fathers and be positive community members and be employable."
For the first few days, every football player on Labrum's team cleaned up garbage and performed other volunteer services in the community. Mid-week, the players gave reports to their fellow teammates about their volunteer work and completed extra school work. At the end of the week, the players were reinstated on the team.
Most shockingly, both parents and school administrators completely supported the coach’s radical action. And even the players themselves expressed appreciation.
"I still have the love for it and everything," running back Gavin Nielsen told the Deseret News, "but it helped me realize, it’s not all about football."
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