Mark Story: Where I went wrong — and right — in 2013

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJanuary 4, 2014 

In the newspaper journalism trade, we see (part of) our role as holding public figures accountable for their actions.

It seems only square that we also hold that same mirror up to ourselves. At the end of each year, I like to look back at how the predictions and opinions I rendered in print have turned out.

Opinions

What I wrote then: On Jan. 25, I wrote a column proposing that big-time college athletics drop all pretense of amateurism and adopt the "Olympics model," in which the schools would not pay their players but the athletes would be able to do commercials, accept payments from businesses and/or boosters, etc.

What I think now: Admittedly, this would be a radical step and would remove any pretense of maintaining "a level playing field" among the competing schools.

To which my reaction remains, so what?

I'd prefer a system that allows college athletes to reap the financial rewards of their celebrity (if any) to the present structure of big-time college sports in which the adults participate in the free enterprise system but the "student-athletes" have their commercial rights restrained.

What I wrote then: After it was announced that, at the request of the SEC and the ACC, Kentucky and Louisville were moving their annual football game to the last weekend in November, I proposed playing the UK-U of L women's basketball, men's hoops and football contests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend.

What I think now: Same thing I thought then. For reasons of TV contracts, coaching egos, etc. ... there's probably no hope for this ever to happen.

But it would be the coolest thing ever for our state if "Armageddon Weekend" came to fruition.

What I wrote then: After Richie Farmer's attorney said the former Kentucky basketball icon would plead guilty to two charges of misusing state money for his own benefit while serving as state agriculture commissioner, I wrote that the University of Kentucky should not remove Farmer's retired jersey from the Rupp Arena rafters.

What I think now: When I sit down to write, some topics are 100-0 in my mind. This one was about 60-40. Which is why I was pretty sympathetic to the arguments of the people who disagreed with that column.

What I wrote then: After UK announced that, as part of a $110 million renovation, it was shrinking the capacity of Commonwealth Stadium from some 67,000 to some 61,000, I wrote on Nov. 26 and again on Dec. 8 that it was a smart move.

What I think now: Downsizing as part of a major sports venue renovation is counter-intuitive and, judging by the response to my columns on the topic, a lot of people don't see the logic in it.

I continue to believe it is the right move by UK for two primary reasons:

1.) In a digital age with so many other entertainment options, I think the 21st century trend in American sports is going to be for less attendance at live events;

2.) Kentucky was never going to make a mark in the SEC with the size of its stadium; it theoretically could carve out a niche if it can have the nicest football venue.

Predictions I got right

My pick: In the Herald-Leader's NCAA Tournament preview, I picked Louisville to win the 2013 men's basketball national title.

In the real world: Louisville won the 2013 men's basketball national title.

My pick: For my colleague John Clay's blog, I picked Kentucky to beat Louisville 79-78 the day before their Dec. 28 meeting in Rupp Arena.

In the real world: Kentucky beat Louisville 73-66.

Predictions I got wrong

My pick: In the Herald-Leader's NCAA Tournament preview, I picked Louisville, New Mexico, Kansas and Miami to go to the men's basketball Final Four.

In the real world: Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan and Syracuse went to the men's basketball Final Four.

My pick: In the Herald-Leader's 2013 college football preview, I picked Kentucky to beat Western Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), Alabama State, Missouri and Tennessee and finish 5-7.

In the real world: Kentucky beat Miami (Ohio) and Alabama State, lost to everybody else, and finished 2-10.

Post-script: Over the last 11 years, my pre-season prediction for the UK football season has proven too optimistic — meaning I picked the team to win more games than it actually won — seven times.

You should remember that when you are reading any future UK football projections from me.

I will remember that every time I get an email claiming that either one of my columns or the Herald-Leader in general is too "negative" about UK football.

Here's to a great 2014 for all.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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