Readers Write: (Sept. 17): Jim Souhan, Jerry Kill; newspaper sensitivity

  • Updated: September 17, 2013 - 12:03 AM

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Readers broadly disagree with Souhan

It is disappointing that the Star Tribune chose to give prominent play to the prejudice and ignorance regarding epilepsy expressed by Jim Souhan (“In category of health, Kill falls too short to continue,” Sept. 15) after University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill’s seizure on the sidelines at Saturday’s game. There are a few occupations — those where incapacitation can result in risk of injury to self or others — that individuals with epilepsy should avoid. This does not include head college football coach.

The role of head coach is akin to that of a CEO. He must surround himself with a staff that can effectively carry out his organizational vision. The greatest example of Kill’s leadership and managerial excellence is the high-quality staff that has worked with him for many years at many schools. Such a quality organization can manage part of a football game without the “CEO.”

Kill’s achievements in his profession despite his epilepsy should serve as an inspiration to all, including potential recruits. To imply otherwise promotes an ignorance and prejudice regarding epilepsy that is neither warranted nor deserving of publication.

Dr. JIM LANGLAND, Minneapolis

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On the surface, Souhan told anyone with epilepsy to stay out of public view. To follow his logic, we would separate anyone from public view who might make us feel “uncomfortable” or those who are not “normal,” at least by his standards. Tired of having to see cancer victims, folks in wheelchairs, paraplegics, blind people with dogs or canes, amputees, burn victims? Maybe you are tired of seeing players limp off the field. Mr. Souhan has a solution: Get them out of public view! Lou Gehrig, Stephen Hawking, FDR, Michael J. Fox, Christy Brown, Beethoven, John Nash, Helen Keller, Sir Isaac Newton, Neil Young, Jim Eisenreich, Jim Abbott, Mel Tillis …

What I saw on Saturday was this: Backup running backs, backup quarterback, backup coaches — and a whole lot of character. Mr. Souhan, you missed a good story!


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Souhan’s comment that no ticket holders “should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground” was jaw-droppingly inappropriate. We’re talking about an event where those same ticket holders might be “rewarded” with the sight of a 20-year-old being carted off the field with a spinal-cord injury. I don’t think we need to worry about their sensitivities.


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The idea that a seizure would evoke pity and ridicule is ridiculous. On the contrary, I believe that Kill’s situation is an inspiration to many. Health issues can be difficult. Are we all just supposed to give up when they happen? Jerry Kill is teaching students, athletes and members of the public that you can fight a courageous fight and still achieve results. His determination is teaching lessons that apply both to football and, more importantly, to life.

This world needs more leaders and fighters who can work through a disability, not fewer.


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