After Minnesota's college football coach, Jerry Kill, suffered a seizure on the sideline during last Saturday's game, several journalists wrote about it. None of the authors of the articles that I have read seem to understand much about epilepsy. Sadly—and though I am angry—I am not surprised.
that this excerpt was taken from, asking whether (suggesting that) coach Kill should resign—ostensibly so that fans won't have to risk seeing a seizure or death from a seizure on the sidelines—was written, under what I see as the guise of sympathy, by Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports. He says:
But make no mistake about this, too: Jerry Kill's epilepsy is a major concern—and not just for Jerry Kill.
will be people, maybe even most people who read this story, who will
fall back on the default position that Kill is a grown man; if he wants
to risk dying on the sideline—doing what he loves—that's his
And you know what? In a vacuum, that's 100 percent
correct. If Jerry Kill is OK with the risk to himself, who are any of us
to tell him he's wrong? That's not our business.
But this issue,
and these seizures, aren't happening in a vacuum. They're happening on
game day, often right there on the sideline. This is an issue that's
bigger than Jerry Kill and the personal risks he's willing to assume.
What about the risks everyone else assumes? What if he has a fatal
seizure during a game, in full view of the stadium?
That's our business.
I was so angered by what Doyel wrote and by his uninformed, discriminatory and back-assward opinion about epilepsy's impact on society, that I posted an impassioned comment that may perhaps have been better tempered by pausing before hitting the send button:
Mr. Doyel, What risks are you talking about, you ignoramus? Your
journalism is so irresponsible it is shameful. And your readers are
fairly uninformed about epilepsy, too. The fact that epilepsy affects
nearly 3 million Americans (1 in 100), that 1 in 26 will be diagnosed
with the disorder at some point in their lifetime, that 50,000 people
die each year from epilepsy and related causes such as drowning and head
injuries—which is more than die of breast cancer each year—the fact
that at least 30% of people with epilepsy do not have their seizures
controlled despite managing their condition by taking medications, that
those who are lucky enough to have seizure control live a life tethered
to anticonvulsant drugs and their heinous side effects, has nothing to
do with whether Kill should resign, and has has everything to do with
educating the public about epilepsy. The risk to the public having to
see a seizure on the sidelines, even a fatal one, is nothing more than
ZERO. NO RISK. And until people start to understand the disorder, its
stigma, its pervasiveness, its paltry lack of funding, the rest of us
will have to risk reading reckless journalism such as yours.
And though I am not proud for having called him an ignoramus, I feel as though I had to set the record straight with regard to his absurd notion of what he calls risk
Revisiting the article today, I was pleased to see a flood of other comments by like-minded folks chastising Mr. Doyel for the offensive, small-mindedness of his commentary. But Doyel, in what appears as either cowardice, humiliation or pure and simply apathy, chose to reply to but a few comments, in one of which he says:
People have the right to work, absolutely. But to work ANY job? I don't know. Some jobs require, I don't know ... sensitivity?
To which I remarked:
yes, some jobs require sensitivity, of which you CLEARLY have none, nor do you have your facts straight. come on, dude.
I don't expect to hear back from Mr. Doyel, nor am I interested in listening to him stand his ground on a subject about which he is clearly, and comfortably, in the dark. Really. I'm thinkin' Neanderthal
|Gregg Doyel wielding small and primitive tools|