For those involved with staging big events in Lexington, the two bombs exploding near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday served as a cautionary tale. Any review of security efforts will bolster a basic truism: An important part of safety in large public gatherings involves participants and fans.
"The No. 1 thing that is the best deterrent is the people themselves," said Joe Monroe, the chief of University of Kentucky police. "If you're aware of something, if you see something, a lot of times you say, 'Hmm, something's not right about that.' We don't second-guess ourselves and we just ignore it.
"But the best thing to do if you're questioning yourself or see something suspicious is go ahead and report it."
Monroe's force leads the security efforts at UK football games at Commonwealth Stadium and basketball games in Rupp Arena. UK police coordinates with Lexington police and state police. In larger events such as Rupp Arena playing host to the NCAA Tournament second- and third-round games last month, Monroe works with such federal agencies as the ATF, FBI and the Department of Justice's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, provided a powerful incentive for people to be security conscious. After 10 years, "the heightened awareness started spiraling down," Monroe said. "Everybody started to get complacent. Now, the awareness is back up as a result of Boston and the letters to D.C." Last week also brought reports of letters laced with the poison ricin being sent to government officials in Washington, D.C.
Alana Insko-Kelley, the race director for Lexington's annual Bluegrass 10,000 on July 4, said that she planned to meet with Lexington government and police department officials to review security procedures for the race. She noted how Lexington blocks off streets on the course, and deploys vehicles in front and behind the mass of runners.
Insko-Kelley's reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings revolved around the festive atmosphere that surrounds such events.
"To think something like that can happen in a joyous and happy and healthy occasion is sad and heart-wrenching," she said.
Of course, it's impossible to secure a 26-mile marathon course.
Rupp Arena is relatively easier to secure because it's enclosed. As for Commonwealth Stadium, Monroe noted the challenges presented by parking lots and tailgating fans that are more exposed.
"That's why you keep bomb dogs patrolling as well as officers," he said.
Ultimately, security personnel cannot be 100 percent confident of thwarting an individual determined to use a public event to terrorize a populace. That's where being alert to possible danger can help.
"That's why it's so important to have those boots on the ground, so to speak, in trying to gather intelligence," Monroe said.
Champions of Character
Whenever the sporting world produces notable lapses in judgment, we'll consider getting a reaction from Eric Ward. He was the athletics director who began a Champions of Character program at Georgetown College.
His aim was to produce athletes that not only won, but showed good character and sportsmanship.
You see, Ward came to believe sports participation does not build character or even reveal character, as the old saying goes. It hinders the building of good character. So administrators and coaches must make a concerted effort to instill good character traits. Yes, they must take time away from the effort to win.
Which brings us to the recent embarrassment at Rutgers. Video surfaced showing basketball coach Mike Rice showing his displeasure in practices by throwing balls at players, kicking players and berating players.
Rutgers had fined and suspended Rice for this behavior. But when the video went public, the school was all but forced to fire Rice. Subsequently, the school also dismissed its athletic director. One of the school's lawyers resigned.
"It's really all about the bottom line," said Ward, who now leads the Big Brothers-Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. "It's really all about does the end justify the means? If Rutgers is winning games, then we don't need to take a hard-line stance on that kind of behavior. 'Maybe we should slap a band-aid on, suspend him for a couple games and, hopefully, it'll go away.'"
Winning aside, how many parents would want their son or daughter to play for such a coach?
"It is absolutely the most anti-character thing," Ward said of the actions of Rice, a supposed leader acting like a juvenile.
But is it a prevalent thing? Are there many other coaches who use similar tactics?
"The verbal assaults, the verbal abuse we've come to learn is more prevalent than we'd like to think," Ward said. " ... The thing that shocked me was the physical nature of the abusive behavior.
"What if a math professor did that? How would we deal with that? Would we accept it? I don't think so."
Reader Jerry Mayfield sees the need for changes in college basketball.
"The game drags out the last few minutes of the game when a team is almost hopelessly behind when the personal fouls accelerate," he wrote. "The commentators commonly mention 'extending the game.' That's exactly what occurs with the parade to the foul line by the winning team. The losing team desperately fouls players, particularly those who have poor free throw shooting accuracy.
"I think an intelligent change is in order. Why doesn't the leading team when fouled (say the last two minutes of the game) be allowed the prerogative of either attempting free throws or taking the ball out of bounds? This would take some time off the clock and would no doubt shorten the game and may lessen the desperate violent fouls by the opposing players."
Mayfield, who was born in Owensboro in 1943, lives in Paris. He was a classmate and friend of former UK player Randy Embry.
He graduated from UK in 1965, and graduated from U of L School of Dentistry in 1968. After serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Dental Corps (1968-1971), Mayfield was a part-time faculty member at UK Dental School from 1971-1973. He's been a dentist in Paris since 1971.
"Last, but not least, my wife graduated from U of L where I met her at the old Louisville General Hospital where we both were employed while in school," Mayfield wrote. "I cheer for UK and U of L both until they play each other. My wife is an avid Cardinal fan so in that instance I cheer for Louisville. A man has got to eat!"
No. 1 pick
Until Anthony Davis in 2012, Kentucky had never produced the No. 1 pick in a NBA Draft. Now, UK may have two in a row.
Sportswriter Bob Ryan proclaimed Nerlens Noel the obvious first pick in this year's NBA Draft. If nothing else, by default.
"Of course, he's going to be No. 1," Ryan said of Noel during an appearance on the ESPN show Around the Horn. "The fact is in the land of the blind, any one-eyed man can be king. Even if he wears Coke-bottle glasses, OK?
"That's what he is. He's the best of a horrendous, could-be-least-productive, useless draft of our lifetime."
Speaking on Tony Kornheiser's Washington D.C.-based radio show, sportswriter Bob Ryan called Rick Pitino's election to the Basketball Hall of Fame a "no-brainer."
If anything, Pitino's election to the Hall of Fame was overdue, said Ryan, who interpreted the delay as Pitino getting "spanked for being a bad boy."
Ryan also attributed Jerry Tarkanian's election to the Hall as a "sympathy vote for 'Tark.'"
Ryan cited "one egregious omission. Maurice Cheeks. The perfect point guard."
Basketball labels, including one especially familiar to UK fans, prompted a reader to write syndicated columnist Norman Chad.
"After watching March Madness, I think I understand most of the new terminology: 'bigs,' 'up and under,' 'step-back jumper,' etc.," Don Dellinger wrote "But I have trouble with the 'dribble-drive' instead of just a drive to the basket."
Of course, UK Coach John Calipari, a former marketing major, gets credit for the catchy label for the "dribble-drive offense."
Dellinger found this redundant. "I thought you had to dribble if you made a drive to the basket," he wrote, "unless, of course, you were Michael Jordan?"
The Detroit News offered final grades for Piston players in the 2012-13 season. Here's how the newspaper assessed a former UK player:
"Brandon Knight (13.3 points, 4.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds): Is Knight a shooting guard? Not quite. The point guard of the future? Nobody knows. Had some not-so-shining moments, but he's a competitor, and at 21, young enough to learn nuances while becoming a top-notch perimeter defender. What the team does this summer will show what it thinks of him. Grade: C. Chances to return: 90%"
Lexington native, and former Henry Clay High catcher, Andy Roberts plays an umpire in the movie, 42, which tells the story of how Jackie Robinson integrated major-league baseball.
Here are a few leftovers:
■ Roberts worked three days on the movie. One of those days began at sunset and ended at 6 a.m. the next day. That day's work ended up producing "maybe two minutes of the movie," he said.
■ Another actor, Max Gail, looked familiar. But Roberts could not immediately recall Gail in the 1970s TV comedy Barney Miller. When they first crossed paths, Gail noticed Roberts' confused look of recognition. He said, "Have you figured it out yet?"
■ Roberts quickly recognized another actor in the movie. He knew Toby Huss once played Elaine's boyfriend, The Wiz, in an episode of the TV series Seinfeld.
■ Roberts befriended actor Linc Hand. When asked about what he thought of how the movie 42 turned out, Hand said, "I absolutely loved it and was blown away. ... It's just an epic story."
■ Roberts, a former minor-league umpire for eight years, was in the umpiring crew for the first home series of the Lexington Legends.
To Ryan Harrow. He turns 22 on Monday. ... To Fred Cowan. He turns 55 on Tuesday. ... To Dwane Casey. He turned 56 on Wednesday. ... To Scott Padgett. He turned 37 on Friday. ... To Father Ed Bradley. He turns 70 on Wednesday. ... To Michael Bradley. He turned 34 on Thursday. ... To Ashley Judd. She turned 45 on Friday. ... To Doug Flynn. He turned 62 on Thursday.