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.
Back off man, I'm a scientist.