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As the mother of a son who received a concussion playing football in high school, I was so happy to read that the football programs are seeing a drop in youth participation around the state ("Eden Prairie football faces challenge — from within," Sept. 2).

My son received a concussion 29 years ago playing football in his senior year in high school and has had repercussions ever since. He suffers from depression and has anger-management issues that are a direct result of his head injury. He was diagnosed with a "chemical imbalance due to injury." The effects of a concussion can and do last a lifetime.

He is the strongest person I know, because he has to deal with his injury every day and is doing well. I regret that he has to struggle so hard to contribute all he does because of an injury he suffered playing a game. His life and relationships could have been so much easier had he not played football.

My hat is off to all the parents who have the courage to say "no" to their children when they ask to play football. I wish every day that I would have followed my instincts and said "no" all those years ago.

l. Johnson, Prior Lake

Don't pretend Hamas has any legitimacy

If members of the radical Islamic terror group ISIL were indiscriminately firing rockets into Minnesota; if they were kidnapping our children; if they were building terror tunnels underneath our parks and malls; if they were bombing our state from military infrastructure embedded within a civilian population under the guise of "resistance"; if they were beheading alleged "informants" with no evidence — would we not have a moral obligation to protect ourselves by engaging them militarily?

Hamas, the terrorist group ruling Gaza that is committing all of the above atrocities is no different from ISIL. Hamas' stated goal is to destroy Jews and the State of Israel. Just because ISIL doesn't pretend to be a peaceful entity, as does Hamas, the facts speak for themselves. Hamas is a terrorist organization, as is ISIL, even though it asserts that it is a legitimate organization that simply wants to achieve Palestinian statehood. If ISIL were in control of Gaza and were to claim such nonsense, would we believe it?


Judge football player on talent, not PR value

As a gay man, I found Jim Souhan's column on Michael Sam disturbing ("Signing Sam would have made sense for Vikings," Sept. 3). It seems Souhan is missing the point, along with most of the media. Sam is a football player. The media keeps referring him as a "gay football player." True equality means dropping the word gay. It shouldn't matter. Are other players described as "straight?" No, they are not.

Sam should be hired or fired based talent alone, not for PR purposes. To suggest that the Vikings sign Sam because it would be good public relations is offensive.


Credit St. Paul for targeting cheap cigars

Congratulations to the city of St. Paul for leading the state in protecting young people from the harms of tobacco ("St. Paul ups price of cheap cigars," Aug. 29). As a professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, a tobacco prevention researcher and a St. Paul resident, I am proud that the city has taken a stand.

For years, the tobacco industry has employed tactics that aggressively market its products to young people, such as flavoring tobacco and selling it at low prices. Cigarettes are required to be sold in packages of 20, which results in higher prices. The surgeon general has said that raising the price of tobacco is an effective method to reduce use among youths. It makes sense to regulate cigars in a similar fashion as cigarettes. With the passage of this ordinance, St. Paul has put a stop to the tobacco industry targeting our youths with cheap cigars.


When sports trumps academics at the U

It is disappointing that Land O'Lakes can't find a better use for its $25 million donation, one that is closer to the fundamental purpose of the University of Minnesota — education or research ("$25M gift boosts U sports facilities," Sept. 3). University athletics are in danger of becoming a product created primarily for sale to television and an activity far removed from the university's real mission.

ROBERT KAUL, St. Anthony

Without definition, it's pretty meaningless

Would someone please do us all a favor and quantify the term "fair share?"

The political ads have begun, and once again we see those words. Name a problem — education, jobs, health care — they are all the fault of someone else who isn't paying their fair share. "If you elect me, I will make sure that other people pay their fair share."

Let's solve this debate once and for all and define fair share. It will never happen. Fair share is meant to be ambiguous. It is a term that is used to distort reality. It's a lot easier to get elected when you tell people that their problems are caused by someone else who isn't doing their fair share.

More important, politicians who use the term don't want it defined. How long would they stay in office when after all of the money was spent, the people found out their problems didn't go away?

To anyone using fair share as a rallying cry for votes, either define it in concrete terms for every voter or stop using it.

DON MUSSELL, Eden Prairie

Courtesy and kindness abound post-9/11

Thank you for publishing Ronald J. Lundquist's insightful, poignant commentary about his encounter with a New York stranger ("Oranges and sympathy," Sept. 1). Two people, enjoying a perfect morning, spontaneously open up to one another, share a parental dilemma — and Lundquist, with new insight, walks away, changed forever. What a gift!

After recently living in New York for a month, I was astonished that without exception, every person I encountered was helpful, listened, and took time to share a moment of courtesy and kindness. I believe the heart of this is the unforgettable wound of 9/11, a tragedy that continues to heal Manhattan after more than a decade. For all those who died, let it be known that in some profound way, you continue to humanize all of us — and certainly one of the most dynamic cities on Earth.