Kentuckians Outraged Over Basketball ‘Kiss’ Photo


A photo the Louisville Courier-Journal published following a match-up between the U of Louisville Cardinals and the U of Kentucky Wildcats caused such a fuss that a columnist yesterday was forced to publish an explanation. Some readers demanded apologies over the photo of Cardinals players Juan Palacios, left, and Jerry Smith, which some saw as a kiss. The negative reaction, the paper says, was “unprecedented.”

Columnist Pam Platt writes: “Some of the comments registered by angry, offended and/or baffled readers: ‘Awful,’ ‘an embarrassment,’ ‘horrible decision,’ ‘poor judgment,’ ‘distasteful,’ ‘a mystery’ and ‘shame on you.’ I have to admit I was a little baffled by the response. Aren’t sports the province of the ubiquitous fanny pat? Aren’t players in each other’s faces all the time during athletic matches? Yes and yes. So what’s a little game-time hug in that universe?”

Here’s the original story.

Platt explains: “Sam Upshaw Jr., who has been a photographer for 20 years, took the photo of Jerry Smith hugging Juan Palacios in the first half, after a big, emotional play that favored the Cards. In the original photo, there was more of a Kentucky player involved in the play in the frame; only his arm remains in the cropped picture that appeared in the paper…After looking at all the game photos submitted for publication and online posting, Bryan settled on the Palacios/Smith shot that was printed because the picture showed the game’s top scorers and it showed them in a moment of celebration, with one congratulating the other…As for the theory floated by some readers, that this was a purposeful attempt to rile or humiliate Cards fans, it doesn’t really deserve a response but [Sports editor Harry Bryan has one: We’re not in the business of offending or agitating readers…”

Finally, Platt asks her readers, “What are you thinking? What is it about two athletes sharing a moment of physical and emotional closeness in the middle of a big game, in the middle of a basketball court, that puts some people off so much?”

Flurry over a photo prompts explanation [courier-journal]
(via gawker)


  1. Carl says

    The picture is funny because you can tell the one player is actually to the side of the other. But the picture makes it look like his lips would make facial contact. The bottom line is that this is excellent because it reveals a lot about the people reacting to what they perceive.

  2. Paul says

    For them to be kissing, the guy on the left would have to be in contact with the guy on the right. There’s no indication of that. Yeah, boy, this is basically gay porn. Idiots.

  3. bryan says

    Of course there’s uproar, it’s Kentucky; They don’t kiss before cousin-sex.

    But, it’s actually kind of a weird photograph – they just look awkward.

  4. HD says


    Congrats, KB, on your good fortune. Tell us, though, what was it like living among Neanderthals?

    Do they have modern communications devices there? Do they know who’s in charge of our armed forces at the moment? Are they aware of issues other than those dictated to them by their demented preachers?

    Do enlighten us, for we need to understand our less-evolved (and possibly devolving) brethren in Kentucky.

  5. RJ says

    You should read some of the ridiculous reader comments following Platt’s column. Why are these conscientious objectors to the so-called “homosexual agenda” so quick to see gay sex everywhere, even where there is none?

  6. DC Arnold says

    Of this whole brouhaha this is what captured my attention: Sports editor Harry Bryan has one: “We’re not in the business of offending or agitating readers…” This is what the media has come to in the Bush regime. Our media used to put feet to the fire now they just offer pedicures.

  7. wetcnt says

    I think an important factor has been missed here. The Wildcats are the top college team in Kentucky, and fans of the Cardinals come to their perception of this picture with a kind of ‘little brother’ complex. Whether we agree with the reaction or not, many uninformed straight people see a possible gay act and see it as negative.

    So in short – these fans saw the picture as an attempt to further humiliate and degrade them as the lesser of the two teams.

  8. hoopchi says

    Can’t you see that all of you who are disparaging the entire state of Kentucky over a few boneheads are making the same mistake those boneheads are making by seeing this as an issue? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  9. Derrick from Philly says

    Dear, THE QUEEN, you know all me. I left my heart on the football field (and memories of my booty in the locker rooms). I don’t have anything against basketball players as people, I’m just against them sexually.

    Wonder if crazy ol’ Grandma Mary’s seen this picture–you know, the “DOWAGER QUEEN MOTHER OF ENGLAND, WALES, IRELAND AND BROOKLYN, etc. I think I hurt her feelings ’cause she was still using the term “negro”. I’m just trying to save her nearly completed life from being snuffed out. I can hear her now, “I just adore the photograph with the two young sweaty Negro men kissing on the basketball court.” Somebody’ll hear her and kill her old ass, along with Johnny Lane.

    “sheep are scared” LOL, love it, ALBERT. I’d be scared to if everybody getting behind me was like Kobe Bryant.

  10. Kentuckian says

    You know, though many thought this photo tasteless doesn’t make us Kentuckians less human or not as evolved/advanced as the rest of yall. And statistically Kentucky does not have anymore incest relations than other states ie Tennessee, Virginia, the Carolinas and other states.

    you know for some who dislike opinions of homophobes, some of yall are just as bad

  11. Willing Lamb from Philly says


    Don’t pay us no mind, man. Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, etc. have no more incest than New York, California or Massachusettes. (I don’t known about over in New Jersey…God only knows what goes on in the bastion of secrecy). The point is we make fun of the southern (red) states because of the “Bible Belt” thing, and the very vocal anti-gay rhetoric coming from southerners (which may be an unfair stereotype). Why, I don’t think there are any sheep in Kentucky anyway. What there are though are some brave people who fight against bigotry, racism, anti-gay violence, and against Republians everyday. We know that.

    But you’re right, many of those on this blog aren’t that sensitive and sane themselves. Anybody who prefers basketball players over football players has to be “throw’d in the head”.

  12. MikeInSanJose says

    Well… why wouldn’t you take it for what it is? Why not accept that two men, who have worked and sweated together for the chance to achieve a goal, a sports victory.

    What in the world can give a body such an intense feeling of pain and elation, performance and extacy, focus and explosion, dieing until you win and then being born again.. at the same time as sport… other than sex? …and maybe religion.

    But to get this feeling through religion, you have to lie to yourself and everyone who has ever really loved you.

    To live a religious life is to live a life defined by others. Mostly DEAD others. L-O-N-G DEAD OTHERS!!!

    So let the basketballers have gay sex all they want. It’s better than going to church!

  13. 411 says

    actually, the 2 largest cities in Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington, are very nice places for gays to live and work. Lexington has a gay vice mayor (elected by the residents) and the only openly gay memeber of the state legislature. Louisville has passed the fairness ordinance and both University of Kentucky and University of Louisville allow domestic partner benefits for same sex couples. My only complaint with the pic is that it needs to show some tongue!

  14. Jimmy says

    As a gay man, I’m disgusted that this is such an issue.

    As a Kentucky citizen, I’m disgusted by the stupidity of the people posting comments about it.

    I’m quite certain the point of the story was to show how hate and bigotry is affecting everything in our society, right down to a hug in a basketball game. Instead of being outraged about the stereotyping, you people choose to focus more on the negative stigma surrounding Kentucky and the people that live there.

    Geeze, why don’t you all just come off it already.

    p.s Anon, I agree, it looks a little manipulated to me as well.

  15. Jake says

    As a Gay man I have to say that I think the photo is no big deal. Two straight athletes reveling in a moment of glory. So what?

    Homophobic straights are reading far too much into this. Get over your cheap selves.

  16. CK says

    the only thing ‘Awful,’ ‘an embarrassment,’ and ‘distasteful,’ is the pathetic, small-minded, narrow brain-dead view of people that found that distasteful… save us from the small minded in-bred bigots… UGH!

  17. Garcam1 says

    Wonder if the decision to publish would be the same if the picture was of the photographer kissing his editor’s ass. I’m sure that there have been many photo ops in this regard.

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