Union High School football coach Matt Labrum suspended his entire team after receiving reports of at least one cyber-bullying incident and also players ditching class and disrespecting teachers.
The day after the suspension of the players at the school in Roosevelt, Utah, the coach explained how they could get back on the team and the field, according to the Deseret News newspaper.
The newspaper reported that the coaching staff gathered the team for a lengthy meeting after a Friday night loss and instructed the players to turn in their jerseys and equipment. The coach told them they’d get to suit up when they’d earned the right.
One mother told the newspaper, “They were in the locker room for a really long time. They came out, and there were tears. Those boys were wrecked. My son got in the car really upset and (said), ‘First of all, there is no football team. It’s been disbanded.’”
School officials said the cyber-bulling took place on a social media site called ask.fm and that one student reported to the guidance counselor department that he’d been harassed online, and believed it was by football players.
The coach said that and the complaints that football players were acting up told him the program wasn’t headed in the right direction and that a character-building exercise was needed.
A letter to the suspended players said, “The lack of character we are showing off the field is outshining what we are achieving on the field. It is a privilege to play this wonderful game! We must earn the opportunity to have the honor to put on our high school jerseys each Thursday and Friday night!”
And instead of practicing for an upcoming game, the players spent a week performing community service and attend a class on character development.
By Sept. 25, most of the players had met the requirements to return to the team.
The homecoming game is tonight (Sept. 27).