In Roosevelt City, UT, Union High School football coach Matt Labrum took disciplinary action to a new level. After a team loss last Friday, Labrum suspended all 80 members of his team — not for their poor performance on the field, but for a lack of respect outside the stadium that the coach felt was translating into terrible football.
“We looked at it as a chance to say, ‘Hey, we need to focus on some other things that are more important than winning a football game,” Labrum told the Deseret Sun. “We got an emotional response from the boys. I think it really meant something to them… There was none of them that fought us on it.”
Labrum took these drastic, yet effective, measures after hearing from guidance counselors that members of the team were harassing another student on Ask.fm. The site allows users to remain anonymous, so Labrum couldn’t pinpoint who was behind the bullying. As a result, he addressed the entire team on the issue.
“We don’t want that represented in our program,” Labrum said. “Whoever it is (doing the bullying), we want to help get them back on the right path.”
Counselors and teachers came to the head coach with reports that many of the players were also disrespecting teachers, skipping classes and performing poorly academically. Players responded to Labrum’s punishment, and on the following Monday cleaned up weeds as a service project for the community.
“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.”
RYOT NOTE: As we all know, cyberbullying is just one facet to the bullying seen throughout schools across the country. That’s why The BULLY Project aims to transform kids’ lives and change a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. To learn more about how they recruit young people and educators alike to rally against bullying, Click on the gray action box, donate and Become the News!