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  1. #1
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    Default Letter to the editors (and Strib leadership) - Re: Souhan column

    Thought some of you might enjoy reading my letter to Strib sports editors Glen Crevier and Michael Rand. I also copied this email to Mr. Souhan himself, and a number of Star Tribune folks in leadershipe (including the CEO, human resources, etc.). I don't expect a response, or anything to come of this (as usual). But it did allow for a level of cathartic release for me. Anyways, enjoy (or hate on me).


    Mr. Crevier and Mr. Rand,

    I felt the need to express with you, my disgust regarding one of your employees, Jim Souhan, and his column regarding University of Minnesota Head Football Coach Jerry Kill and his medical condition. Iíll be blunt. I was absolutely appalled at both the tone of this column and its presumed understanding of Coach Killís epilepsy. Whatís more appalling though, is the fact that you, editors who presumably have the right to refuse and/or modify one of Jim Souhanís columns, thought this article was in a state which was fit to print.

    There is no doubt, the overarching question that was being asked was appropriate and thought-provoking (Is Kill healthy enough to fulfill his duties in leading a NCAA FBS team?). However, in his typical writing style, Mr. Souhan canít help but bury the meaningful question beneath a wave of inappropriate snark, disrespect to those who struggle with epilepsy every day, and uninformed conclusions. This isnít new to Souhanís columns, not by a long stretch. But this time it crossed the line and became truly offensive when he touched on the personal subject of someoneís health and future job status without even consulting any experts in the field of epilepsy. Unless Iím mistaken, Jim Souhan is not a medical doctor. He has no formal training in epileptology or the neurosciences (correct me if Iím wrong here, please). But yet, both of you felt that it was appropriate to allow Jim Souhan to use his keyboard to opine as arbiter of Jerry Killís health and future status as a head football coach of the University of Minnesota. How did this happen? Whatís the process here? This article started out with an appropriate premise. But it went awry when you allowed Souhan the editorial license to insensitively comment on a personal medical condition he clearly has no educated knowledge about.

    Do you find statements such as, ďKill suffers a seizure on game day as the coach of the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium exactly as often as he wins a Big Ten game. Heís 4-for-16 in both categoriesĒ or ďNo one who buys a ticket to TCF Bank Stadium should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the groundĒ appropriate? These words are not kind, or even thoughtful, I assure you. Rather, they are highly offensive. The former is arbitrary. And the latter is ridiculous, considering tens of thousands of people come to a football stadium knowing that there is a real possibility someone may be carted off paralyzed or with their brains scrambled. Especially when directed at a man who struggles to maintain normalcy in his demanding work and personal routines, all while remaining a respected public figure. Your poor judgment in letting these words through your filter. It indicates a serious lack of judgment from you both.

    Is Jim Souhan qualified to make statements regarding Coach Killís health? Are either of you? Phrases like ďKillís case is sad. He did good work his entire life to reach a position that his system can no longer handleĒ and ďEither the stress of the job is further damaging his health, or his health was in such disrepair that he shouldnít have been hired to coach in the Big Ten in the first placeĒ imply that all three of you do. In fact, none of you do, and neither do a majority of your readers. Why not let Coach Killís family, doctors, and employer make that determination, and notify the media when they deem appropriate? That would have been the respectful angle to play, while writing about this sensitive and personal subject.

    And to attack Norwood Teagueís leadership abilities simply because Souhan didnít hear the answers he felt were warranted, when he wanted to hear them (no doubt because selfishly someone had a deadline to hit), is the reaction of a petulant child. Not a serious thinker or level-headed writer.

    If you at all question my level disgust, please consider the fact that your columnist needed follow-up blog space and six bullet points just to clarify and rationalize his recent bile. But perhaps you can indulge me to do some unqualified presupposition of my own. Iíd say instead of feeling apologetic or embarrassed for letting Jim Souhan making you both look the fool, Iíd wager you are both thrilled that this column generated a nice little spike in interest for your newspaper, if only for a scant amount of time. The ends justify the means in your collective minds. Clicks, clicks, and more clicks. Thatís what itís all about, right Glen? Right Michael?

    In closing, I wonít waste my breath calling for Jim Souhanís firing, or your own for that matter. Iím in no position to make any impact there. But I will tell you this. Iím done. The Star Tribune will no longer receive a mouse click from me. I wonít pick up a Sunday paper at the gas station, or a weekday edition for a headline that catches my eye. Iím sure this gesture means little to you or Star Tribune leadership. And thatís fine.
    Good riddance.

    -Jon Tortomasi
    Back off man, I'm a scientist.

    Twitter: @JTorto40


  2. #2

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    Very well written. Thanks for sharing it and I look forward to seeing if there is a reply.

    Go Gophers!!

  3. #3

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    Very well done OP, perfect actually.

  4. #4

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    Last edited by Gold Vision; 09-16-2013 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Apparently I suck at the internet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Vision View Post
    Just posted this:



    I don't see anything. What is it suppose to be??

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinsfan007 View Post
    I don't see anything. What is it suppose to be??
    I'm having issues embedding Souhan's Tweet.

    "Disagree with my take on Kill? Then you disagree with Kill, who told Strib in August he had to be able to get thru games or he'd resign"

  7. #7

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    i hope this makes the Strib (although I know it is wishful thinking). I'm going to keep my eyes out for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Vision View Post
    I'm having issues embedding Souhan's Tweet.

    "Disagree with my take on Kill? Then you disagree with Kill, who told Strib in August he had to be able to get thru games or he'd resign"
    I can see it now, we're good!

  9. #9

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    Here's the letter I submitted to the opinion page of the Star Tribune.

    I am disappointed the StarTribune permitted the printing of the very discriminatory article by one of their employees, Jim Souhan, on Jerry Kill. By producing and publishing the article the StarTribune has permitted, and encouraged, discrimination towards people with disabilities of all types.

    Football coaches are typically held responsible for winning games and fielding a competitive team. Sometimes we hold coaches responsible for the academic standing and off-the-field behavior of their team. The Gophers just went to their first bowl game in a few years, they're currently undefeated, the academic standing of the team is remarkably improved, and the team performed much better without their coach Saturday than with him. The StarTribune failed to demonstrate why the University of Minnesota football team is not headed in a good direction or is not meeting acceptable standards when calling for the removal of Coach Kill and instead focused on his disability.

    The StarTribune should be more aware of the potential harm their discrimination has on our society including to our children, the people of Minnesota, and our nation.

  10. #10

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    Here is the email I sent to Kill, Teague and Kaler (with the StarTribune opinion letter above attached).

    My six year old daughter was at the game with me and I appreciated the opportunity to witness Coach Kill’s seizure as a great teaching moment for her. A couple of years ago one of her previous classmates, who was probably three or four at the time, had a seizure in their classroom and his parents immediately withdrew him from the school. I appreciated the opportunity to witness Coach Kill’s seizure with her to talk about it. Just as we discussed about her previous classmate, I reiterated everybody is different and some people have seizures. They’re normal and the people are safe. We saw properly prepared and trained personnel allow the seizure to complete then take Coach Kill to the doctor for some more medication. We turned our attention to the band and finished our snack. She’ll be back with me Saturday and will know that on the field or not, Coach Kill is doing just fine and is just a normal person like us.

    Coach Kill, please don’t be embarrassed by your seizures. I’m sure you don’t like them but you and all of us have nothing to be embarrassed about a fairly common medical condition. Please recognize the benefit to society your epilepsy coupled with your high-visibility has. We’re all learning from you in a positive manner. Everybody has their own personal issues and yours just include seizures.

  11. #11

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    I can't remember how long ago I called and told the paper that this dude and others is exactly why I canceled my subscription. I wish more people did.

  12. #12

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    My letters for Jim-

    F and U

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldInDirt View Post
    Here's the letter I submitted to the opinion page of the Star Tribune.

    I am disappointed the StarTribune permitted the printing of the very discriminatory article by one of their employees, Jim Souhan, on Jerry Kill. By producing and publishing the article the StarTribune has permitted, and encouraged, discrimination towards people with disabilities of all types.

    Football coaches are typically held responsible for winning games and fielding a competitive team. Sometimes we hold coaches responsible for the academic standing and off-the-field behavior of their team. The Gophers just went to their first bowl game in a few years, they're currently undefeated, the academic standing of the team is remarkably improved, and the team performed much better without their coach Saturday than with him. The StarTribune failed to demonstrate why the University of Minnesota football team is not headed in a good direction or is not meeting acceptable standards when calling for the removal of Coach Kill and instead focused on his disability.

    The StarTribune should be more aware of the potential harm their discrimination has on our society including to our children, the people of Minnesota, and our nation.
    Well said, and superior in that it hit an angle I didn't get into, and is far less loquacious than my thesis.
    Back off man, I'm a scientist.

    Twitter: @JTorto40

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldInDirt View Post
    Here is the email I sent to Kill, Teague and Kaler (with the StarTribune opinion letter above attached).

    My six year old daughter was at the game with me and I appreciated the opportunity to witness Coach Kill’s seizure as a great teaching moment for her. A couple of years ago one of her previous classmates, who was probably three or four at the time, had a seizure in their classroom and his parents immediately withdrew him from the school. I appreciated the opportunity to witness Coach Kill’s seizure with her to talk about it. Just as we discussed about her previous classmate, I reiterated everybody is different and some people have seizures. They’re normal and the people are safe. We saw properly prepared and trained personnel allow the seizure to complete then take Coach Kill to the doctor for some more medication. We turned our attention to the band and finished our snack. She’ll be back with me Saturday and will know that on the field or not, Coach Kill is doing just fine and is just a normal person like us.

    Coach Kill, please don’t be embarrassed by your seizures. I’m sure you don’t like them but you and all of us have nothing to be embarrassed about a fairly common medical condition. Please recognize the benefit to society your epilepsy coupled with your high-visibility has. We’re all learning from you in a positive manner. Everybody has their own personal issues and yours just include seizures.
    Not gonna lie. I teared up a little reading this. Had a similar talk with my kindergartener about an autistic child in his class. The result was that my son ended up being a good friend and helper to this autistic boy, and he has an understanding about how we're all human beings, with different challenges to overcome, but they don't make us better or worse. Understanding is the key word. And something Souhan's column was devoid of.
    Back off man, I'm a scientist.

    Twitter: @JTorto40

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Vision View Post


    Jim, Jim. We disagree with the tone and angle you took, one of an a$$hole. Not the underlying question.

  16. Default Cancelled my Sunday Subscription to the Star Tribune because I'm tired of Souhan

    He is a shallow glib writer who thinks his opinions matter more than most.
    Souhan only wrote the mea culpa column he did today because he must be getting heat from Star Trib management over the Sunday article. I doubt I'm the only one that cancelled my subscription today for the Sunday paper and I let them know it was because I was offended by Jim Souhan article and rants on the radio today.
    May be meaningless to them and Souhan in the long run but if more customers are not buying there paper or viewing there web content, or less listening to his radio shows, then less revenue for them from advertisers and less reason to keep Souhan around. He is full of BS with his tweet today to.
    Just a cumulation of all of the negative media articles and crap we as Gopher fans have been putting up with from the Star Tribune for years. They will not listen that Gopher fans are tired of the negativity and attacks on the Gopher football program, the bad perception they help create then they do not need my money.
    The Star Tribune has been part of the problem, too bad because Joe Christensen has been a good writer and blogger for the Gophers that Souhan needs to be a d-bag.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Vision View Post


    Then let Kill make the decision for himself and keep your mouth shut you sleazball Soupcan. Honestly expecting anything from the AD immediately following the episode is completely a**inine and insensitive.

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    Thanks for writing this. Too bad we couldn't get all who agree on GopherHole to endorse it before you sent it. If they fire Kill I will move on to being a Wisconsin fan, as I've lived there for a while before MN.

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    My letter and the response I received from Strib editor Nancy Barnes are below. Souhan's non-apology doesn't help matters IMHO. At least his boss apologized.

    Ms. Barnes,

    I am a loyal Star Tribune reader and advocate for maintaining a strong,independent 4th branch in our country. I support freedom of the press and free speech rights. I believe it's important to have strong local newspapers and other media outlets in order to have an informed public. I also believe journalists have a responsibility to be thoughtful in how they exercise those rights and to choose their words carefully.

    In columnist Jim Souhan's recent column regarding University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill's seizure during the September 14 game, he demonstrated a hurtful, insensitive,and unprofessional attitude toward not just Coach Kill but also the many thousands of Minnesotans and millions of Americans who live with epilepsy and other serious medical conditions or disabilities.

    I may disagree with Mr. Souhan over the question of whether a football coach can compete successfully while managing a serious medical condition, but I concede he has the right as a member of the sports media to raise that question. However, I believe Mr. Souhan went much too far in moving beyond the question of whether someone with a serious health condition could coach a football team into opining that the public should not be subjected to seeing someone have a seizure, an occurrence that happens millions of times per year in public and private settings.

    I am lucky enough to have a happy family with no major health concerns or disabilities that we are presently aware of and I hope that both you and Mr. Souhan are as fortunate as I am. But we live in a world where many people don't have that luxury and I hope we can live in a world where we allow people the opportunity to attempt to overcome their challenges without fear of ridicule for having a medical episode occur in public.

    I believe that Mr. Souhan's statement that "No one who buys a ticket to TCF Bank Stadium should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground" warrants a public apology by Mr. Souhan to Coach Kill, the University of Minnesota, and to the thousands of Minnesotans who struggle with epilepsy.



    Dear Readers:

    Many of you have written over the weekend to express your anger or concern regarding Jim Souhan’s columns and blog posts following Coach Kill’s seizure during Saturday’s football game. On behalf of the Star Tribune, I apologize. In no way did we intend to suggest that people with epilepsy, or other disabilities, should be hidden away. Nor did we intend to be callous or insensitive to their struggles.

    I have spoken with the editors who were here Saturday, regarding the column, and Jim has posted his own response to readers, which you can find here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw...223932901.html

    Coach Kill is brave to battle this disease so publicly, and to share that battle with us. Just a month ago, we ran a Sunday front page story chronically his struggles to get his seizures under control, and his efforts to balance that with his passion for football. If any good comes of the anger readers have expressed, I hope it’s that the broader community comes away with a better understanding of epilepsy and those who struggle to bring it under control.

    Thank you sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.

    Regards,

    Nancy Barnes
    Editor

  20. #20
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    Souhan's apology is crap. It's the old, "well if you were offended, then I apologize". Translation, it's your fault, not mine.

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