A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Billy Reed: All-Star Game moved from Atlanta but there’s surely a way to call attention to Georgia mess

By now just about everyone knows that Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has ordered the All-Star Game moved from Atlanta to Denver to protest Georgia’s new laws that encourage voter suppression. The decision was driven by the Players’ Association, which has many African-American and Hispanic members, and supported by Atlanta-based multi-national corporations such as Coca-Cola...

Billy Reed: On Easter Sunday, celebrate the sports celebrities who live their lives as true role models

It seems wrong, if not even irreverent, to write about something as relatively mundane as sports on Easter Sunday, the holiest day on the Christian calendar. Yet treading where wise men fear to go, I can see vestiges of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on the cross, his burial, and his rise from the tomb even in today’s crass sports world. In other words, I want to celebrate the coaches and athletes...

Billy Reed: A tribute to Howard Schnellenberger, the very image of the stereotypical coach, and great man

If I were making a movie and needed somebody to play a stereotypical football coach, I wouldn’t have gone to Central Casting. I would have sought Howard Schnellenberger, he of the gravelly voice, bushy mustache, and constant pipe-smoking. That was the man I met in 1984 when Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., who had gone to school with him at the University of Kentucky in the 1950s, was recruiting him to be...

Billy Reed: March madness indeed; pushing for last place in the NCAA pool — what about you?

It’s hardly a surprise that the madness this March is wilder than ever. The season was screwed up badly by the Coronavirus pandemic, so it stood to reason that the NCAA Tournament would be more unpredictable than ever. But North Texas 78, Purdue 69? Who saw THAT coming? I paid my money and entered the NCAA pool in which I’ve participated for years. My expectations weren’t high because I haven’t...

Billy Reed: A year unlike any other, Selection Sunday is here and NCAA title is truly up for grabs

Back in the day, Selection Sunday was a big deal because I would finally learn where I would be going to begin covering the NCAA tournament for The Courier-Journal, Sports Illustrated, or The Lexington Herald-Leader. Once the field and bracket were announced, all of us involved with college basketball would talk to our administrators about where we should go. Then, with the help of our travel department,...

Billy Reed: Duke’s Jalen Johnson, 2/3-and-doner, a perfect candidate for the times for Player of the Year

No matter which team wins the NCAA men’s D-I basketball tournament, my vote for Player of the Year will go to Jalen Johnson. Yes, I’m talking about the most touted recruit in Duke coach Mike Krzyewski’s freshman class. No college player symbolizes the time in which we live than Johnson, and that is not a good thing. Everybody knew he was a one-and-done player when he came to Durham, but who knew...

Billy Reed: In a world in which everything changes, I fervently hope the Harlem Globetrotters never do

The experts tell us that nothing will be quite the same when the Coronavirus pandemic is finally under control. I have no idea what that means for the basketball world, but I do hope there still will be a place for the Harlem Globetrotters. Going back to the 1940s, when they became nationally prominent, the Globetrotters have been unparalleled ambassadors for their sport, their African-American race,...

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: Remembering Hank Aaron, a baseball superstar and a man of grace, eloquence

When it was obvious that Henry Aaron was ready for baseball’s major leagues, he received contract offers from the New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves. He signed with the Braves only because their offer was $50 higher. As Aaron observed years later, “That $50 is all that kept Willie Mays and I from being teammates.” It is difficult to imagine a team with Mays in center field and Aaron in right....

Billy Reed: What a difference a week makes as we learn the depth of our intolerance for free speech

Last Monday, our nation was reeling as never before from the double whammy of a violent attack on our nation’s Capitol building, which had shocked us only five days earlier, and the continuing escalation of the Coronavirus pandemic, which was claiming lives every day. In Kentucky, the president of the Senate, a Republican named Robert Stivers, delivered an emotional speech that caused him to break...

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: Happy New Year (truly!); we remember weird stuff as we leave 2020, some good too

Happy new year to everyone, and I mean that with more sincerity than ever. Last year was such a disaster, due to all the worldwide havoc caused by the Coronavirus pandemic that even to mention 2020 is the same as using a curse. The world of sports was hardly immune to the crisis. At both the college and pro levels, so many games were canceled or postponed, and so many teams decimated by players who...

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: Sports world must get over entitlement, protect fans and players by taking virus seriously

At this very moment, my younger granddaughter is in Richmond, Va., participating in a field-hockey tournament. I kid you not. Why in the world this thing wasn’t postponed is beyond me. I was sort of hoping she would use the Coronavirus as an excuse not to go. But she loves to play the sport and she didn’t want to let her teammates down. I have to applaud her for that. When you’re on a team, you...