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Teaching Character: There is no I in TEAM

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John Wooden Character Quote

Coaches often have to make hard decisions on the field, but seldom does the outcome of a game change anyone’s life. But every once in a while, a coach gets the opportunity to teach character building and truly make a difference in the kind of person an athlete becomes. A coach is a role model for his athletes, and when he stands by and ignores poor sportsmanship on the field or bad behavior off the field, he is in essence giving them a “pass.” We don’t do our student athletes any favors when we do this. We’re the adults; we’re supposed to be teaching our kids the skills that they need to be successful in life. With his student athletes getting poor grades, skipping classes, and allegedly being involved in cyber bullying, Utah Coach Matt Labrum made the decision to bench his football squad…and spend practice time working on character instead.

Was punishing the entire team for the transgressions of certain players fair? Perhaps…or perhaps not. But personally I think we need more coaches like Coach Labrum…more coaches that are willing to take a stand and make a potentially unpopular decision in an effort to provide “teaching moments” to our student athletes. Interestingly enough, in the end, it doesn’t sound like it was an unpopular decision. It sounds like his players rose to the occasion, and learned some valuable life lessons in the process. 

After all, there is no I in TEAM.

How do you feel about this? Do you agree with Coach Labrum’s decision?

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Friday 11th of October 2013

I love that qoute!

And I've got to say, I understand why the coach did what he did. You win and lose as a team on the field. It's important to enforce the concept of teamwork at any early age. Sometimes it encourages others to put theit best foot forward to avoid bringing down the team.

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 12th of October 2013

I love that quote too! I have a thing for sports quotes... I completely agree with what Coach Labrum did! Sometimes kids just need a wake up call and he provided them with that. Now it's up to them to turn things around...and I bet they do it!


Friday 4th of October 2013

I think this is awesome. Whenever and if-ever my son gets into sports, I'm definitely going to make sure he has the best attitude he can and good character. These are the kind of coaches kids and young men and women need.

Michelle Nahom

Saturday 12th of October 2013

I completely agree Ashlee! I would love for my kids to have a coach like this!


Tuesday 1st of October 2013

Coach Labrum is an awesome example of how coaches are supposed to set an example!! A lot of people, not just coaches are afraid to step out of the box and I loved what he did. Sometimes these games go too far!! great post!!

Michelle Nahom

Tuesday 1st of October 2013

Coach Labrum is a gem! I loved what he did too! I think sometimes kids just need a wakeup call before things go too far, and I feel like that is exactly what he did! I am glad the parents and community backed him!


Tuesday 1st of October 2013

Great story, thanks for sharing Michelle! I think sports are wonderful for kids, they get exercise, they learn commitment and perseverance. But it can easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and be so focused just on winning at the cost of character and teamwork. And I love that quote!

Michelle Nahom

Tuesday 1st of October 2013

So true Stevie! Character is so much more important than a win - loss record!


Monday 30th of September 2013

I think that it was a great decision. It's hard to make unpopular decisions like that but I think that coaches are in a really unique position to help build character in a role that's not the parent or friend or teacher. Did you see the NYTimes article Losing is Good for You? I do think that our culture and society have taken the easy way out in terms of teaching lessons and helping to build strong and resilient individuals.

Michelle Nahom

Tuesday 1st of October 2013

I did not see that article but I will definitely go check it out! I agree with you that we have taken the easy way out...losing is good for our kids. Not everything is always going to go their way and it's better to know how to handle disappointments when they happen!