Comments about ‘Taking a stand: Union High coach suspends entire football team in lesson about character’

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Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24 2013 4:30 p.m. MDT

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Provo, UT

I think he was saying in some sense that we are our brother's keeper. Nobody was "innocent." Every member of the team was probably aware of someone not living up to the high standards the coach was shooting for in his program. He was saying by not doing more to uplift, in a sense you are somewhat guilty in letting the program and team down. I think the larger lesson, even for the lesser offending players (I will call them) is the old proverb that "evil triumphs when good men do nothing to stop it." Sometimes it does take courage to take action.

I'm sure the coach could ignore the problems and keep practicing as usual. He should be applauded for putting things in proper perspective. Quite frankly, I don't know of any Union football players that have played in the NFL and few have played in college. But most will be husbands and fathers and all are citizens and all are currently students. First things first, and the coach has established what is truly important and it isn't playing football on Friday night.


This is a life lesson for all, that poor behavior is not tolerated. Needs to happen to youth, and adults!!!

Tucson, AZ

As an educator, I love this!

Congrats to the coaches who are obviously men of integrity.

Congrats to the administrators who supported this. So many times administrators cannot see the forest through the trees and make numbskull decisions. This decision was right!

Congrats to the parents who saw the light and supported the coaches and their sons.

Congrats to the boys--you respected your coaches' decision and sounds like you are making this an opportunity to grow and become better. You will never regret this.

Vancouver, WA

@ Eagle -

I would say that is a pretty good attempt to rationalize the coach's thought process short of being able to actually talk to him about it. My main concern, and keep in mind I have only this article in which to base my opinion, is the coach holding himself and his staff to the standard that he has established? Is he and his staff leading by example?
Maybe he is, but it is not mentioned in the article. I support his decision to suspend the team over misconduct although deciding the punish the entire team for the conduct of a few, some or whatever number can become dicey (it appears, fortunately, that did not happen here) as you ensnare players who likely have done nothing wrong. But I must ask, does the coach and his staff have to earn the privilege to coach again? Did they perform any service? It seems that the coach had prior knowledge of at least some of the misconduct that was going in the team and the coaches are part of the team.

Beverly J Giles

I commend these coaches, I know this was probably a hard decision to make. But I also think it's wonderful that they decided to be proactive instead of doing nothing. I wish more teachers and parents would do something along these lines.

Taylorsville, UT

I have to commend this coach for this action and I hope he is allowed to maintain this punishment until the end. But its unlikely the principle will understand the need for minors and sub adults to learn the meaning of discipline and self respect as well as for others.

A boot camp mind bending attitude is what young people need in education and social behaviors and its good to see someone that recognized the need for this discipline and how to make it work. He should make them miss a few games to go along with this action so they know he is serious about their social respect for each other and all member's of their community.

Sports teams are usually recognized as the spirit of a school but they are also the spirit of social behaviors and respect for each other. I hope the parents are cooperative with the coaches actions and not get angry at coach and make themselves look like fools.

Dietrich, ID

Is breaking a contract character? Players do need suspended. However the game officials, opponents, UHSAA and community signed a contract to play in scheduled games and that there is a breach. Hurts coaches and officials financially as well.

Pig Skin Fan
Syracuse, UT

Utah needs more coaches like Matt. Great Job!!!

Its Common Knowledge
Houston, TX

Excellent work coach!

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

This brings to mind the story of a young lady in Arizona with Downs Syndrome. She was getting bullied at school and her mother went to the Quarter Back on the football team and asked him to find out who was bullying her. He knew he could do more. He and his fellow team members escorted her to classes and to and from school. They became a force for good.

This should be a requirement just to be on a sports team in school. Become a force for good.

I recall a Christian football hero from Oklahoma being interviewed. He was asked how he maintained his Christian standards in the face of peer pressure.

His reply: "I am the peer pressure."

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Vernal, UT

Coach Labrum,
I'm a Uintah Ute graduate...and as far as I'm concerned, you have already won the state championship. Kudos to you and your staff.

Herriman, UT

As a high school coach just have to say...great to see this!

South Jordan, UT

It's refreshing to know we have high school teachers and coaches who still get the purpose of high school athletics. Great job Union!!!

Pleasant Grove, UT

It's good to see a coach who understands that football is a recreational activity and a game; not the central focus of a well-balanced life or the school's reason for existing. While some might question why those who were not misbehaving were also cut, I believe it is the same concept as that in the West Point honor code for cadets, which teaches: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." The latter point is the central one here. Football teams develop a culture of their own and those who are not misbehaving usually are still aware of what is going on but remain silent about it. When you're on a team, you're not just an individual responsible only for yourself, but bear a responsibility for what goes on around you.

Murray, UT

OK.... I have a question....

WHY did it come to this? Why weren't there consistent rules and behavioral standards already set?

To me, this is the biggest cop out in history. Masking a situation where the coaches let things get out of hand INSTEAD of punishing individual players for their mis-deeds AS THEY HAPPENED.

My sons' coach was man enough to suspend starting Quarterbacks, the entire Defensive line, and many others WITHIN HOURS or DAYS of bad behavior. Why these guys ignored all the known behavior for so long really raises a question of their ability to coach in my mind.

USC Fan in Utah
Spanish Fork, UT

I think a key element here is that the coaches were in touch with what was going on. Coaches need to be aware of the stewardship they have over these young men. They can be a strong influence for good if they take time to get to know their boys. If there are boys on the team that have been acting "different" an engaged coach will recognize it and take the time to find out what is going on. There may be bullying other things that are effecting the player. Coaches are coaches for more than the 3 hours a day they are with the team.

Hats off to the Union coaches and administration.

Bountiful, UT

This is an inspiring story of coaches doing the right thing and parents supporting them in their efforts. I hope the players do learn something from this and realize that they have the ability to be an influence for GOOD in the world and not tear others down. It may have only been a few kids on that team who were not acting appropriately, but making it a "team" issue will bring these boys closer together. I'll be rooting for them to come back strong in football!

Saratoga Springs, UT


Nothing was copped out on, it was learned of and dealt with. You question his ability to coach. This guy went above and beyond his call of duty. Those involved a little deeper are getting their punishment, but who better to hold other kids accountable than their teammates. This is going to create a unity not only on his team but in the community and school as well. I applaud this coach for taking this measure to not only teach these kids football, but to teach them about life and the responsibility of growing into adulthood.

First Class Coach! I stand and applaud. Thank you for putting values and the mentoring of these kids in a place higher than a single individual and a football game. I hope many of these kids return for their jersey with a value and understanding of others and the importance of being a proper human being first and athlete second. I commend you and wish you and your boys the best of luck against Emery Friday night. I feel sorry for Emery having to play against the new respect and emotion these players have gained this week.

Holladay, UT

I did not know much about Union before this but what I do know now is the administrators, coaches and parents all value integrity more than they value playing a game. I hope these boys learn quickly and they never forget the lesson being taught here.

Nice job Coaches! Well done!

one old man
Ogden, UT

This is absolutely AWESOME!

Congratulations to the coaches who had the courage to act. And especially to the parents who had the wisdom to realize that their kids are being handed a tremendous lesson in life.

Too many parents might have gone ballistic and sought to fire the coaches.

This sounds like a winning game for all.

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