A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Billy Reed: Rest in peace, Paul Hornung, and thanks for the fond memories — and two good books

Paul Hornung called me early in 2004 to ask if I would be interested in doing a book with him. As somebody who had followed him since his days at Louisville Flaget High (now defunct) and written much about his iconic career with Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers of Vince Lombardi, I quickly agreed and we set up a meeting to go over the details. I found out later that Paul had received an advance...

Billy Reed: Going home to old friend, as Bellarmine University will play basketball in big Freedom Hall

While almost every college and university that plays basketball in NCAA Division I is anticipating severe attendance and revenue drops due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Bellarmine University of Louisville, is looking forward to expanded attendance and revenue in its first season as a member of the sport’s highest division. Impossible? Ridiculous? Not if you’re ready to welcome an old friend, Freedom...

Billy Reed: Sports management program is a good idea, but the timing just doesn’t seem quite right

My alma mater, Transylvania University, has begun the process of starting a sports management program. I like the idea, even suggested it a while back, but now I have to wonder if the timing is right. For one thing, money is tight at most colleges and universities. Depending on the magnitude of their problem, many have eliminated positions, slashed budgets, instituted hiring freezes, and cut salaries. This...

Billy Reed: Coming off a long lay-off, the happy golfer is back — for big laughs and great memories shared

Last week the most exciting sports story in my Coronavirus-shrunken world was that played nine holes of golf, the first time in more than two years that I had swung at a Titleist. I use the term “played” advisedly because I’m sure that good players would recognize my hacking as being anywhere close to the same game they play. Yet the record will show that my next-door neighbor Ed Zellers and...

Billy Reed: The ‘fellowship of the miserable’ is watching to see what’s next for Stoops

After the Kentucky Wildcats posted another of their signature come-from-ahead losses a week ago yesterday, this time a 42-41 overtime defeat to an Ole Miss team they led by 14 in the third quarter, the fan base spent the week moaning, groaning, finger-pointing, whining, and lamenting their historic bad luck. But I liked the Wildcat fan who found a silver lining in the debacle. He said he didn’t mind...

Billy Reed: Remembering Lexington native and former Los Angeles Dodger Lou Johnson

Although I hadn’t seen Lou Johnson for years, I still considered him a friend, mostly because we shared a special time in our lives. This would have been the mid-1960s, when Lou was playing baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers and I was an aspiring sportswriter in his hometown of Lexington. I made sure he got properly recognized by the afternoon Lexington Leader. Apparently his family never forgot...

Billy Reed: Just when I was thinking some people had good sense, we find out it really is about the money

Yes, that was heartfelt applause you heard coming from this corner when two of the country’s major college sports conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, announced their teams would not play football this fall due to concerns about the coronavirus. Finally, I thought, we have some universities who put the health and welfare of their athletes above the money that football generates. Finally, I thought,...

Billy Reed: When my high school granddaughter is playing field hockey, I won’t promise not to worry

This fall my younger granddaughter is playing field hockey at Assumption High School in Louisville. She loves the sport so much that she transferred to Assumption so she could play on one of the state’s best teams. So far, so good. Her parents, my older daughter and her husband, assure me she is happy and doing well in her new environment. That’s good enough for me because I so much admire them...

Billy Reed: Strange Derby is over; maybe next year can be normal; Baffert sets record with Authentic

All you horse-racing fans who have been waiting to exhale no longer have to hold your breaths. On a lovely late-summer day at Churchill Downs, the 146th Kentucky Derby was run without a hitch before a “crowd” of around 200. Nobody was beaten and nothing was set on fire. The protesters outside the track grounds were mostly peaceful. In fact, the only guy who got knocked down was Bob Baffert, who...

Billy Reed: In a week celebrating inclusion, tolerance in one area, Thom Brennaman implodes in real time

It is sadly ironic that Cincinnati Reds television announcer Thom Brennaman committed career suicide by slur while the Democratic National Convention was celebrating diversity, inclusion and tolerance in uplifting fashion. That’s why I didn’t see or hear Brennaman’s shocking implosion in real time. I was watching the Democrats nominate Kamela Harris as Joe Biden’s runningmate. It wasn’t until...

Billy Reed: We must hope Churchill Downs comes to its senses; big Derby crowd is too great a risk

In announcing Churchill Downs plan for what’s left of the Kentucky Derby, track president Kevin Flanery said in a news release, “We’re optimistic that this time-honored event, which belongs to our community and our country, will serve as a progressive and unifying force that can help bring us together.” Really? I would like to think Flanery is right. Instead, I’m wondering what they are...

Billy Reed: Happy to debate facts vs facts with anyone, but to be clear — Adolph Rupp was not racist

Naively, I now realize, I thought I would never again have to write the column about whether Adolph Rupp was a racist. The facts simply do not support the notion that he was. Period. Yet once again, 43 years after his death, the legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach is being attacked by some opportunists who refuse to let the facts get in the way of their prejudices and perceptions. Inspired...

Billy Reed: Historic properties folks still haven’t said what statue will replace Davis; should be Ali

It was on June 11 when the Kentucky Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted 11-1 to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, from the Kentucky state capitol rotunda. (The lone vote against was Brandon T. Wilson who said the issue was being politicized and that he wasn’t there to remove history but to protect it.) The Commonwealth received much national and regional...

Billy Reed: Paying homage to former college athletes on medical front lines in battle against COVID

Let’s stop fretting, for just a moment, about whether we’ll have 2020-’21 basketball season, and concentrate on paying homage to all the former athletes who now are on the front lines of the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic. They come from different sports and different nations. They come from both sexes and with different skin colors. What they have in common is that they used the educations...

Billy Reed: Dream worth pursuing is black athletes with good education, fully part of whole society

For as long as I can remember, and that’s longer than most, people in the sports world, including myself, have been proud of our history of integration. We point to the likes of Jesse Owens, the African-American star of the 1936 Olympics, held in Hitler’s Nazi Germany; Joe Louis, the heavyweight boxing champion in the 1930s and ‘40s; and Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier in...

Billy Reed: As COVID-19 invades college football, can’t we just say health is more important than playing?

The latest information from the sports coronavirus front was a stunner: National runner-up Clemson announced that 23 football players had tested positive of the for the cunning disease. As fate would have it, the Louisville Cardinals are scheduled to play at Clemson on Saturday, Sept. 12. That would be the Cards’ second game of the season, following their season opener on Thursday, Sept. 3, against...

Billy Reed: Can’t wait for ‘Play Ball!’ even for half a season and dreaming of Reds fulfilling their potential

When last we heard from the Cincinnati Reds – you remember them, right? – they were playing spring-training games, working to put together what promised to be the most exciting Reds team in a decade or so. But then they had to pack up their bats and gloves and go home because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which forced the opening of the baseball season to be canceled, the same fate as suffered by...

Billy Reed: Good and bad news for sports, but the coronavirus rules — and the rules are changing

A few weeks ago, the National Football League conducted its first virtual draft, and the Cincinnati Bengals, surprising absolutely nobody, used its No. 1 pick to take Joe Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy while leading LSU to the national collegiate championship. Ordinarily, that would have been a huge story in these parts, with arguments raging on the sports radio talk shows about whether Burrow...

Billy Reed: Hard to take, but coronavirus is victor on first Saturday in May; there’s an at-home party

The Kentucky Derby has been a big part of life ever since I covered my first one on May 7, 1966. The winner on that warm, breezy afternoon was Kauai King, who went wire-to-wire for owner Mike Ford and trainer Henry Forrest. In the jockeys’ room after the race, I heard winning rider Don Brumfield of Nicholasville, Ky., proclaim himself to be the “happiest hillbilly hardboot in the world.” I was...

Billy Reed: About Americans, Ugly Americans, and a world needing first responders more than sports

Fairly early in my career, I made it a point to get to know A.B. “Happy” Chandler, the former two-time Kentucky governor who was elected to the baseball. Hall of Fame for what he did during his term as the game’s commissioner from 1946 to ’51. At that time, there were 16 teams in the major leagues, none west of the Mississippi River, and when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn (now Los Angles) Dodgers...