Parents Support Football Coach in Punishment for Team


The job of non-parental authority figures is very difficult especially considering that this is a world of helicopter parents where parents of athletic kids view their children as superstars who can do nothing wrong. But contrary to what you would have expected, parents had an unexpected reaction when the football coach of Union High School, Matt Labrum, suspended his entire of 80 players.

Rather than getting his head handed to him, Labrum says that he received no ill will from the parents of the players. The suspension was apparently fueled by off-field problems ranging a serious allegation of cyber bullying, failing grades, skipping class, and bad attitude towards their teachers just to name a few. In a bid to help them correct their behavior and reform, Matt Labrum asked all the players to turn in their jerseys.

If any of the players wanted their jerseys back, they would have to earn them by jumping through a series of hoops such extensive community service. The night Karter and his teammates got booted from the team, Jenn Rook, his parent, was waiting outside the school. She cited to Deseret News that the team was in the locker room for an exceptionally long time. His first words when he got into car were that there was no longer a football team as it had been disbanded by their coach. While this initially upset her, she quickly changed her attitude when she discovered the reasons behind the suspension.

According to her, the punishment wasn’t really a punishment and it wouldn’t hurt the team members. In any case it would serve a good life lesson and an opportunity for them to do some good in the community. Jeremy Libberton, whose son was also on the team, says that he supports the coach fully. By not standing with the coach, he feels that he will be a part of the problem and so he encouraged his son, Jaden, to stay strong and work with the team to get through it.

Parents weren’t the only ones who gave Matt Labrum a thumbs-up – the administrators, who could have easily nixed this moved as too risky for a flagship program such as the football team, did too. Principal Rick Nielsen is quick to add that he has 100% in their coaching staff and no doubt, Matt Labrum’s decision to suspend the team.

The following morning after the suspension, Labrum handed the team a document dubbed ‘Union Football Character’ which outlined what they had to do if they wanted to earn their jerseys. Along with community service, the team would have to attend a class on character development and a study hall then write a report about their actions. They would also have to improve their grades and arrive in class on time. There was also a re-election of team captains the same morning and out of the seven original captains, only two retained their positions.

  • Amanda, staff writer

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One comment

  1. I absolutely LOVE this! There are too many high schools who overlook the antics of their athletes so as to maintain their status. This is something that every coach for every sport at every school needs to do, but sadly won’t. One example is that multi-million dollar high school football stadium being built in Dallas, I believe. Do you think that coach will forgo a football team? I grew up in Texas….football was, is, HUGE there. Kudos to this coach, and others like him, for trying to help build good citizens, instead of the next star athlete.

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