A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Billy Reed: When players and gamblers mixed and a reminder that basketball can never relax its vigilance

I know this comes under the heading of “ancient history,” but I remain fascinated by the 1951 point-shaving scandal that brought college basketball to its knees. I think it has become a cautionary tale about what might happen when players and gamblers mix, as they did back then in Madison Square Garden in New York city. My interest mainly had been due to the University of Kentucky’s involvement...

Billy Reed: Black History Month perfect time to remember the 1963 boys’ state basketball tournament

Black History Month is the perfect time to remember the 1963 Kentucky Boys’ State High School Basketball Tournament because that’s the one that changed the sport forever and had an impact on society as a whole that many in the Commonwealth either didn’t notice or purposely ignored. The tournament in Louisville’s Freedom Hall took place nine years after U.S. Supreme Court had rendered its historic...

Billy Reed: Looked for solace in University of Kentucky; sadly, it’s back to politics

The political news had gotten too depressing, so I switched to the Tennessee at Kentucky basketball game in search of some fun. Bad choice. For awhile Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats played some of their best ball of this crazy season. But then they let the Vols get a 12-0 run that put them back in the game. And again they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Tennessee 82, UK 71. The record now...

Billy Reed: Super Bowl, a celebration of all kinds of excess, coming up (yes) Monday; my prediction

It’s time again for that special day dedicated to everything Americans hold dear. Yes, I’m talking about the Super Bowl, which celebrates violence, sloth, gluttony, inebriation, commercialism, sex, and excess of all kinds. But this year is different, as is everything else in our troubled nation. The Super Bowl comes to us with not a bang but a whimper. The Roman numerals are still there, but just...

Billy Reed: Still reeling from mob at Capitol and thinking of those who make a difference

Here at the start, I must admit that I am still reeling at what I saw happen Wednesday afternoon in our nation’s Capitol building. I will never get over the sight of Americans fighting other Americans for control of our revered temple of freedom. It was sad beyond belief. But it also renewed my resolve to use any forum I have to speak to my fellow Americans, especially the young people, about the...

Billy Reed: In the merry spirit of Christmas, I can only say the UK-UL game was only a bit better than I expected

Staying in the merry spirit of Christmas, I am determined to write something nice about the Kentucky-Louisville game in the KFC Yum! Center. So here it is: It was better than I expected. Not by much, mind you, but it a bit. The Cardinals won, 62-59, because it was better-coached and has a guard combination, sophomore David Johnson of Louisville Trinity High and Carlik Jones, a transfer from Radford,...

Billy Reed: UK basketball is no longer must-watch TV for me (back to National Lampoon’s Christmas)

The last time the Kentucky men’s team opened the basketball season with a 1-5 record was 1926-’27. I was not around then, believe it or not, but neither was Dick Vitale, March Madness, and the dunk. Adolph Rupp was in Kansas, three years away from coming to UK and revolutionizing the game. I mention this to give you some perspective on the current team, which dropped to 1-5 yesterday with a 75-63...

Billy Reed: Please send me your ideas for who should be Kentucky Sportsperson of the Year

Since its first year of publication in 1954, Sports Illustrated magazine has selected a Sportsman (now Sportsperson) of the Year. The first winner was English runner Roger Bannister, the first man to crack the four-minute barrier in the mile. Since then, the award has gone to individuals, or teams, from every major sport. It has included foreign athletes like Bannister, black and whites, men and women...

Billy Reed: Johnny Oldham, dead at 90, was one of college basketball’s historically important coaches

The death of one of college basketball’s most historically important coaches on Nov. 23 received scant attention outside Bowling Green, Ky., and that would have been fine with Johnny Oldham, a quiet and modest man who had no ego that could be seen with the naked eye. From 1964-’71, Oldham, who was 90 when he passed away, won 78 per cent of his games at Western Kentucky University. He put together...

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...