Sports writer to speak at forum

By Kelsey Caudill

Students can learn about everything from the heritage of Adolph Rupp in Kentucky basketball to the hiring of UK’s first African American coaches at a forum on Thursday.

Herald-Leader sports writer and UK alumnus Chip Cosby will lead a panel on Sports, Race and Human Rights following the showing of “Fair Play” at 3:30 and 7 p.m. in Kastle Hall, room 213.

The film is the fourth installment of “Have you heard from Johannesburg,” a seven-part documentary sponsored by the UK College of Arts and Sciences.  The event is in collaboration with UK’s year-long diversity project to explore South African culture and history.

Cosby said the panel will focus on the local and national effects of race and sports, including the issue of paying players and the recent questioning of a former UK basketball player’s eligibility.

“Let’s face it—the issue of race is a topic that generates a lot of discussion.  I’ve learned just from my job that people learn through communication,” Cosby said.  “This is an opportunity for students and the general public to come out and communicate on a very prevalent topic.”

Other panelists include fellow alumnus and social activist Dr. Boyce Watkins, Kentucky-based journalist Billy Reed, high school football coach Jock Sutherland and three-time all-state basketball player Louis Stout.

Reed, a sports reporter for over 50 years and Hall of Fame journalist, said that he is looking forward to the forum because it draws attention to a controversial issue.

“I think that racism is still a problem in our society and anytime we have an opportunity to examine the issue in this type of forum, we should.  The integration of college sports in the Deep South is something I’ve lived through and written about, so it’s been a really important part of my life and career,” Reed said.  “I’m looking forward to discussing it with the other panelists.”

Cosby agreed that racism still happens on and off the playing field and said the best way to deal with it is through discussion.

“Sometimes it’s taboo.  People kind of tiptoe around it, but the best way to learn about it is through open forums and open discussions,” Cosby said.

The film and panel are being offered as part of a course taught by Dr. Lauren Kientz.  “South Africa and Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Ground,” focuses on human rights issues, sports, music, race and activism through several multimedia sources, according to the course website.

This week’s focus is on racial discrimination in sports.

Kientz urged students to participate in a forum lead by those who have experienced the integration of Kentucky sports firsthand.

“I encourage students to think about the connection between sports and social change,” Kientz said.  “Kentucky refused to integrate its sports teams for a long time, but now they are predominantly African American.  Come listen to men who witnessed that transition reflect upon their experiences and the road ahead of us today.”