Frank Deford

Writer and commentator Frank Deford is the author of sixteen books. His latest novel, Bliss, Remembered, is a love story set at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and in World War II. Publishers Weekly calls it a "thought-provoking...and poignant story, utterly charming and enjoyable." Booklist says Bliss, Remembered is "beautifully written...elegantly constructed...writing that is genuinely inspiring."

On radio, Deford may be heard as a commentator every Wednesday on NPR's Morning Edition and, on television, he is the senior correspondent on the HBO show RealSports With Bryant Gumbel. In magazines, he is Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated.

Moreover, two of Deford's books — the novel Everybody's All-American and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis — have been made into movies. Two of his original screenplays, Trading Hearts and Four Minutes, have also been filmed.

As a journalist, Deford has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Six times Deford was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year. The American Journalism Review has likewise cited him as the nation's finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

Deford has also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award, and journalism Honor Awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University, and he has received many honorary degrees. The Sporting News has described Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media," and the magazine GQ has called him, simply, "the world's greatest sportswriter."

In broadcast, Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford's life and work, "You Write Better Than You Play." A popular lecturer, Deford has spoken at more than a hundred colleges, as well as at forums, conventions and on cruise ships around the world.

For sixteen years, Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. Deford is a graduate of Princeton University, where he has taught in American Studies.

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2:44am

Wed September 25, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Head Games: NFL Should Share Records About Concussions

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 12:15 pm

iStockphoto.com

Football is unique in that most players participate in only half the game — offense or defense.

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2:19am

Wed September 18, 2013
Sweetness And Light

More Than Average: Dow Jones Adds The 'Swoosh'

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 3:01 pm

Don Ryan AP

After 117 years, sports has finally made it to the big time, when, starting next Tuesday, a sports company will be included in the Dow Jones averages.

The Dow Jones, of course, has always preferred very serious corporations –– your banks, your automotives, your insurers. OK, the movies were allowed in 1932 with the inclusion of Loews, and Walt Disney was brought onboard in 1991, but sports was never considered substantial enough for an industrial average until now, when Nike has been ordained.

Yes, Dow Jones has the swoosh.

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2:25am

Wed September 11, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Diana Nyad's Accomplishment Makes America's Cup Look All Wet

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 6:54 am

Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad swims toward shore in Key West, Fla., on Sept. 2, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. She arrived at the beach about 53 hours after beginning her swim in Havana.
J Pat Carter AP

For sportswriters the fattest target has always been the America's Cup. It's too easy. It's like all those political writers who make fun of vice presidents and think they're being original. Sportswriters have been going har-de-har-har about the America's Cup even long before one of their wags said it was like watching paint dry. Or like watching grass grow. One or the other. Maybe both.

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1:15am

Wed September 4, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Why Keep Athletes Eligible But Uneducated?

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 3:31 pm

Ersin Kisacik iStockphoto.com

Each football season brings exciting plays and game heroes, but Frank Deford says the real heroes are often overlooked.

As another school year and college football season gets underway, Deford looks at the frustrations and challenges facing educators to keep student athletes eligible.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

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2:36am

Wed August 28, 2013
Sweetness And Light

How About A Gold Medal For Human Rights For Gay People?

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 4:46 pm

A gay-rights activist chants slogans during a demonstration in front of the Russian Consulate in New York on July 31. Gays in the United States and elsewhere are outraged by Russia's intensifying campaign against gay-rights activism.
Mary Altaffer AP

Let's see, now. That self-proclaimed fortress of liberty and fellowship, the International Olympic Committee, awards the Winter Olympics to Russia for 2014. After all, China worked out so well as an exemplar of freedom of the press at Beijing in 2008.

Then, Russia, duly a signator of the Olympic charter proclaiming the "preservation of human dignity," trots out an anti-homosexual law that would've made Ivan the Terrible have second thoughts.

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2:05am

Wed August 21, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Tennis Fans: A Stadium Roof Is Coming. So Is Regis Philbin

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:03 am

The ugliest, most ill-conceived physical addition to sports scenery was the construction, a few years ago, of the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium at the U.S. Open. Typical U.S. supersize. We'll be bigger than everyone else, so there.

Alas, in the upper reaches of this charmless behemoth you need a GPS to find the players somewhere down there at sea level. Worse, should it rain, which it has a wont to do in New York, there are no players on the court and you get wet.

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12:55am

Wed August 14, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Pete Rose Should Enter The Hall Of Fame With Ichiro Suzuki

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 8:16 am

Former baseball player Pete Rose at a boxing event in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2012.
Jeff Chiu AP

In Japan, a noren is a short curtain that hangs to the entrance of a little teahouse or restaurant. It is not solid, but made of strips, and so when you go through it, your hand goes first, then your arm, and the rest of you, but quickly the strips fall back into place, and it is as if a wisp, a ghost, a sprite has passed through.

I always visualized Ichiro Suzuki that way, slipping from Japanese baseball to our major leagues so effortlessly, barely stirring the air.

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12:12am

Wed August 7, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Dick Kazmaier, 'A Honey Of A Guy'

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 4:24 am

Dick Kazmaier of Princeton University poses with the Heisman Trophy at New York's Downtown Athletic Club before the official presentation in 1951. Kazmaier, the last Ivy Leaguer to win the Heisman Trophy, died on Thursday.
John Rooney AP

You may never have heard of Dick Kazmaier. After all, he played in the Ivy League, never went to the NFL and filled a position, tailback, in a formation, the single-wing, that has long since disappeared.

But as the years have passed, that is what makes Kazmaier so special: that he best represented another time, when there was more whimsy and capriciousness to college athletics.

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2:33am

Wed July 31, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Why Would You Volunteer For Next Year's Super Bowl?

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:40 pm

Super Bowl volunteer Ben Schreiber distributes fan guides to any of the thousands of people who may need them while visiting Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI festivities, in 2012.
Chad Ryan CSM /Landov

I read the other day that 16,000 people have been recruited as volunteers for next year's Super Bowl in New Jersey, and suddenly it occurred to me: the Super Bowl is one of the great financial bonanzas of modern times. From the players to the networks to the hotels, everybody involved with it makes a killing. Why would anybody volunteer to work for free for the Super Bowl? Would you volunteer to work free for Netflix or Disneyworld?

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9:03pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Sweetness And Light

NCAA Should 'Bolster And Reinforce' African-American Players

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 10:59 am

Jaimie D. Travis iStockphoto.com

"And this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement." President Obama

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9:03pm

Tue July 16, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Clap If You Believe In Roger Maris

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 4:08 am

Davis says that in his opinion, Roger Maris (above) is the all-time home run record holder. Maris hit 61 homers in 1961.
AP

In 1961 the American League schedule was lengthened by eight games to 162, and it was about this time that summer that the commissioner –– of whom it was once written, "An empty cab drove up to the curb and Ford Frick got out" –– declared that even if some player broke Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs, it would not count if he needed more games than Ruth had had.

So, when Roger Maris hit his 61st in the last game of the longer season, the distinction did not displace Ruth in the record books but was merely listed along with The Babe's lesser number.

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9:03pm

Tue July 9, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Football Needs A Guardian, Not A CEO

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:03 am

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference at the NFL football spring meetings in Boston two months ago. Can he save our American sport from becoming a gladiator game?
Elise Amendola AP

Aaron Hernandez, who appears to be a monster, can no more be held up as representative of football than can Oscar Pistorius be fairly presented as an archetype of track and field.

But still, Hernandez does become a culminating figure. The sport is simply more and more identified with violence, both in its inherent nature and in its savage personnel.

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1:58am

Wed July 3, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Roger Federer: Leave While He's Good Or Play Because He Can?

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 8:52 am

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts during his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26.
Mike Hewitt Getty Images

It's been a week but tennis fans are still talking about the big loss of a big favorite at Wimbledon. This is sports drama, a heartbreaking soap opera as only Frank Deford can imagine it:

She brushed her fallen golden locks from off her forehead and turned away, not letting him see that she was fighting off tears.

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2:29am

Wed June 26, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Let's Separate The Schoolin' From The Sports

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 10:13 am

iStockphoto.com

We usually think of college sports in terms of classic big-time schools, polls and bowls.

But, in fact, our athletics are intertwined with — and complicate — all higher education.

The University of North Carolina, Wilmington provides a typical recent case. The Seahawks field teams in 19 Division One sports, but unfortunately, like many colleges, UNCW athletics are in the red, so the chancellor, Gary L. Miller, assembled a committee, which recommended the elimination of five sports: men's and women's swimming, men's cross country and indoor track and softball.

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2:23am

Wed June 19, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Tick Tock: Make The Serve, Pitch, Putt Or Shot

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 8:40 am

Two fans catch a nap during a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals last month in Milwaukee.
Tom Lynn Getty Images

In Milwaukee, cartoon characters dressed up like various sausages race at each Brewers' game; in Washington, five of our beloved presidents do their own bratwurst ramble. But the character I want to appear at every baseball game –– and at a couple of other sports, too, is ...

tick-tock,tick-tock

... the crocodile from Peter Pan who swallowed a clock and shadows a terrified Capt. Hook.

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