the questionable journalism of gregg doyel or gettin' cheeky

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.

The article 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.

There 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 choice.

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


  1. Bravo, Christy, well said as always!

  2. You didn't call him stupid, you called him ignorant... which is an accurate statement. I thought you were right on target with your comments.

    Don't stop educating! We (society) need it.

  3. this article doesn't even make sense! he's worried about spectators seeing a seizure and yet NOT the violent nature of the game of football where players are often gravely injured and can die??? He's concerned some will be "offended" by someone suffering a medical event over which they have no willful control??? Should we be spared the sight of another spectator in a wheelchair at the "risk" someone else will feel uncomfortable??? He is most definitely an ignoramus! (and worse!!!)

  4. What an idiot! First, people with epilepsy shouldn't have to lock themselves away from the world lest it be traumatized by seeing them suffer their illness. Second, we're talking about a game where players have died or been paralyzed for life, a game where apparently many of them are damaging their brains every time they go to work. That's okay, but a coach having a seizure isn't?


  5. Well, if you consider the content of that picture of Doyel, it is obvious he has been hitting himself in the head with a hammer. Which explains a lot .