This past weekend, when a handful of teenagers made a bad choice to go out in the forest and drink alcohol, it started a series of events that everyone affected regrets.
Any teen cited for underage consumption on Saturday night reaped consequences for their actions, but a group of five athletes faced the harshest punishment of all. Some of those in attendance at the party had signed a contract of conduct to abstain from alcohol, drugs and tobacco. By signing that agreement, the athletes agreed that they would be kicked off the football team for the rest of the season if they were caught consuming alcohol.
Anyone who has made a bad decision in their life feels a knot in their stomach for these kids.
But what is done is done, and what happens next is the most important piece of this story.
The way the parents choose to respond will shape their sons for the rest of their lives.
On many levels, this is not about football. It is about life.
This is a time for the young men to learn two lessons. First, that there are consequences for every action, and the way we face those consequences is a true test of our character. Secondly, this is a chance for them to learn how an individual picks himself up after a setback.
While the PHS team just faced a major blow with the loss of these starting players, what the athletes learn from this experience is more important than the score of any football game.
Back on June 2, the Payson Roundup ran an editorial welcoming PHS football coach Josh Anderson to town. At the time, we asked the community to support Anderson.
"As (Anderson) leads, the community will be watching and emotions will be running high ...
"He has to make decisions for the good of all his athletes. The problem he will soon face is that many parents are only thinking about the good of their one child.
"Most parents will greet coach Anderson with open arms at the beginning of the season, but the first time he makes a tough decision -- the first time he makes someone's child sit on the bench -- that will be the true test.
"At that moment, we ask that the community get behind him and support him in those tough decisions."
We stand by that request.
This is not the time to debate Anderson's policy. If it was to be debated, it should have been done at the time contracts came out, before the athletes agreed to his terms.
Instead, now is the time for parents to set an example and for adults to be reminded through these athletes of the hard lessons we have learned in life.
This incident can help us all be better people.
As we recently learned from watching Reed Hatch's day in court, we were reminded that in real life, bad decisions are met with harsh consequences.
Better to learn that now, with the loss of a four month football season, than years down the road with the loss of so much more.