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

  • Updated: September 17, 2013 - 12:03 AM
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COACH JERRY KILL

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

• • •

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!

JAMES M. HALVORSON, Farmington

• • •

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.

LOIS STRAKA, Eagan

• • •

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.

JILL HAKES SADLOWSKY, St. Louis Park

• • •

Every coach has weaknesses. Some don’t recruit well; some don’t develop players. The successful coaches overcome these things and even turn them into positives. Kill has implemented a plan whereby the coaches, players and even the fans know what to do on these occasions. No one was surprised, no one panicked, and the Gophers went on and played well in the second half. This is true leadership — to know you can’t do everything, and to train and trust others to do their jobs. It is barely even newsworthy at this point, and that is why U athletic director Norwood Teague saw no reason to address it.

JEFF CERKVENIK, Shoreview

• • •

A good sportswriter could become a pied piper, a magnet for attention and money. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But on Sunday, the Star Tribune Sports section, and by extension the entire paper, became the subject of pity and ridicule. Jim Souhan suffered more hair loss, and the editor chose to pretend that nothing was wrong. How can a newspaper continue to employ a writer who keeps losing his hair?

Of course, I have no idea how hair loss relates to sports writing, and I am sympathetic — although I have a full head of hair. But I am offended.

JEFF MOSES, Minneapolis

* * *

SENSITIVITY, CONTINUED

Two other references in paper were off-key

While I was absolutely delighted to read “Nonprofit brings wilderness to everyone” (Neal St. Anthony column, Sept. 16), I was dismayed in one respect — the use of the phrase “wheelchair-bound” to describe Jim Frey. It was especially ironic to see this phrase juxtaposed with an anecdote that clearly demonstrated how unbound Mr. Frey can be from his method of locomotion. I’d encourage editors to adopt a more active phrase in describing people who use wheelchairs. Perhaps something like “now uses a wheelchair?” Or “relies on a wheelchair?”

JENNIFER NELSON, Minneapolis

• • •

As I was reading the editorial “Nicollet Mall: A truly public space?” (Sept. 16), I stopped short at the sentence: “Starched-collared corporate types strolled shoulder to shoulder with welfare mothers and their screaming babies.” If you don’t know why I was appalled by that sentence, then you don’t deserve to run a newspaper.

CAROLYN HAWKINS, Minneapolis

• • •

Six modest proposals for Nicollet Mall’s screaming welfare babies:

1) Harness wind power from welfare babies’ screams to operate trolleys.

2) Post welfare babies along the skyway system to guide visitors by their screams.

3) Use screaming welfare babies as fountain statuary (like in Europe, only real).

4) Train welfare babies to scream a signal as each bus approaches.

5) Call off Holidazzle parades whenever welfare babies stop screaming due to extreme cold.

6) Apply modern branding techniques to our more worthy public investments: Screaming Welfare Babies Field at People’s E-Pulltab Stadium.

CHRIS STELLER, Minneapolis

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