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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9:03pm

Tue July 24, 2012
Sweetness And Light

From Obscurity To The Olympics Back To Obscurity

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 7:12 am

Know who this gymnast is? You will soon. Seventeen-year-old Jordyn Wieber will compete for the U.S. women's gymnastics team in the 2012 London Olympics.
Jeff Roberson AP

Why do we like the Olympics?

If somebody hadn't thought to start them up again 116 years ago, would ESPN have invented them to fill in summer programming?

I'm not being cranky. It's just that most of the most popular Olympic sports are the groundhog games. Swimming, gymnastics and track and field come out every four years, see their shadow and go right back underground where nobody pays any attention to them for another four years. Can you even name a gymnast?

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9:03pm

Tue July 17, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Doping In Baseball: The Needle And The Damage Done

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 8:57 am

Marathon medal winners listen to the anthem from the victory stand during the presentation ceremony at the XXI Summer Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. From left, Frank Shorter, U.S.A., silver; Waldemar Cierpinski, East Germany, gold, Olympic record; and Karel Lismont, Belgium, bronze. Evidence of doping by the East Germans suggests that Shorter deserved the gold medal.
AP

The 2012 induction ceremony for the Baseball Hall of Fame takes place this weekend, so there's even more discussion about the 2013 election, because then both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the ballot, along with several other players who are also suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs.

I've been surprised to learn that some baseball writers have declared that they'll vote for Bonds and Clemens because they were the best players in an era when drug use was widespread — ergo if there's a lot of guilt going around, then nobody should be assigned guilt.

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9:03pm

Tue July 10, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Going To The Game: The Price Is Wrong?

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 3:45 am

Andy Murray returns a shot during the men's final match at Wimbledon. A pair of tickets for the match went for £32,000 (about $50,000).
Paul Gilham Getty Images

Sports is more ubiquitous than ever on television. And sports is almost the only thing that's left, live, on TV. NBC Universal is even going to let Americans see the Olympics live this year.

Nevertheless, despite TV's charm, last week as Andy Murray, Great Britain's homeboy, drew closer to making the Wimbledon final, the word was that tickets for actual Centre Court seats would be scalped for up to £32,000 a pair. If you're not hanging around the currency exchange market, that comes to something like $50,000. For two tickets. To a game.

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9:03pm

Tue July 3, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Joe Paterno's Legacy: Protect Players At All Costs

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 7:39 am

Joe Paterno walks the sidelines during warm-ups before a game between his Penn State Nittany Lions and the Temple Owls in Philadelphia last September. Paterno, who died in January, was fired on Nov. 9, four days after Jerry Sandusky was initially arrested on charges of sexually abusing 10 boys.
Chris Szagola AP

It is not facetious to say that dying may not have been the worst thing to happen to Joe Paterno this past year.

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9:03pm

Tue June 19, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Title IX At 40: What Has Changed, And What's Next

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 7:08 am

The adoption of Title IX has spurred growth in women's collegiate sports, including soccer. But a women's pro league has struggled, cutting its season short this year. Here, Notre Dame celebrates winning the NCAA College Cup in 2010.
Gerry Broome AP

Saturday is the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which, although almost nobody anticipated it then, resulted in women's gaining the right to participate in sports commensurate with their numbers attending college.

Title IX not only had a huge effect on women's participation in sports, but also, culturally, it influenced the way both men and women view the idea of women and athletics. It's mattered greatly in our American society.

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9:03pm

Tue June 12, 2012
Sweetness And Light

The Language of Baseball: In Is Out And Foul Is Fair

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 7:14 am

Pittsburgh Pirates fans reach for a foul ball hit into the stands by Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning of a game in Pittsburgh.
Keith Srakocic AP

Baseball historians continue to poke around in the 19th century to better explain how the game was originated and developed, but I've always wondered if one of the prime movers wasn't a student of Shakespeare.

While I certainly don't know the terminology of all ball games, the popular ones I'm aware of — everything from basketball and football to golf and tennis — all use some variations of the words in and out when determining whether the ball is playable.

Only baseball is different.

"Fair is foul and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air."

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1:57am

Wed June 6, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Please Sir, I'd Rather Have Another

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 11:07 am

Triple Crown hopefull I'll Have Another is ridden by exercise rider Jonny Garcia during a morning workout at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Al Bello Getty Images

To be perverse, I'd suggest that for the horse-racing industry, it'd be best that I'll Have Another does not — yes, does not — win the Triple Crown this Saturday.

Oh, certainly, absolutely every year you want a horse to win the first two races — the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness — so that suspense builds and a horse has a chance to win the Belmont and take the Triple Crown. But isn't it better to have the potential winner barely get beat so that the losing streak continues, building interest?

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9:02pm

Tue May 29, 2012
Sweetness And Light

In Europe's High Season For Sports, Soccer Rules

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 7:04 am

Larger Than Life: Tourists pose in front of a UEFA Euro 2012 Cup placard on Kiev's Independence Square in Ukraine. Europe is entering a packed sports schedule — but soccer still reigns supreme, says Frank Deford.
Sergei Supinsky AFP/Getty Images

It's a prime irony that while Europe is suffering a great financial crisis, in counterpoint, the Continent is starting to spend the summer awash in a veritable plethora of joyous sporting events, a rolling athletic circus to divert Europeans from Angela Merkel telling them to get serious and tighten their belts.

Now, as is the case every summer, there are two Grand Slam tennis championships — the French Open, which is already under way, and Wimbledon. Then the Tour de France and British Open golf.

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2:23am

Wed May 23, 2012
Sweetness And Light

NBA And NHL Playoffs: Does Anyone Really Care?

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:23 am

Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs have won 18 games in a row as they head into the NBA's Western Conference Finals. But Frank Deford wants to know: Has anyone noticed?
Harry How Getty Images

It's the climax of the hockey and basketball seasons, but both have potential playoff visibility problems. Let me explain.

OK, the NBA first. As you know, basketball is the most individualized, celebrity-ized team game. Like movie stars, the best players are known by their first names: LeBron, Kobe, Dirk. Every basketball superstar wants to take his talents to a hot-dog, big-time market. Or at least marry a Kardashian.

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9:03pm

Tue May 15, 2012
Sweetness And Light

The American Way: Winners And Losers, And No Ties

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 7:13 am

Real Salt Lake's Jonny Steele (right) trips Chicago Fire's Sebastian Grazzini during a Major League Soccer matchup. The game ended without a score — one of 11 ties each MLS team is likely to record this season.
John Smierciak AP

Politicians love to boast about American exceptionalism: how special we are from all the merely ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill countries around the globe. I would say that what sets us apart, more all the time, is that we Americans don't like ties.

I don't mean four-in-hands or bow ties, but the ties in games, the ones that somebody once said are "like kissing your sister." Boy, do I agree — and I never even had a sister. Nothing about me is more American than that I don't like ties.

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2:43am

Wed May 9, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Mind Games: Football And Head Injuries

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 7:14 am

Attorney William T. Gibbs (left), and Tregg Duerson, son of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson, announce the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL on Feb. 23 in Chicago. The lawsuit accuses the NFL of negligently causing the brain damage that led Duerson to take his own life at 50, by not warning him of the negative effects of concussions.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Even as the great, sad Junior Seau killed himself, more and more other old football players are joining in class action to sue the National Football League. They're claiming, generally, that while the NFL understood — for years — how vulnerable its players were to head injuries, the league did not sufficiently warn players about the danger of concussions.

Nor did the teams first do no harm — instead, allowing players to go back into games when they should have been kept out of the action.

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9:13pm

Tue May 1, 2012
Sweetness And Light

A Horse Of A Different Color

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 1:04 pm

Hansen, ridden by Ramon A. Dominguez, races to the finish to win the March 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in New York.
Adam Coglianese AP

The 3-year-old champion colt named Hansen will not be the favorite in the Derby Saturday, but most eyes will unavoidably be upon him.

You see, in a field of chestnuts and bays, Hansen is already brilliant white. Well, technically he's a gray, but without boring you with equine pigmentation detail, thoroughbred grays — like the great Native Dancer — turn whiter as they grow older, and Hansen is simply prematurely white, sort of a four-legged Steve Martin.

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2:04am

Wed April 25, 2012
Sweetness And Light

U.S. Women In Golf, Tennis: Where Are You?

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 7:10 am

Yani Tseng of Taiwan hits a bunker shot to the ninth green during the second round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship at the Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Hawaii.
Jeff Gross Getty Images

Here's today's sports question: Who are Victoria Azarenka and Yani Tseng?

Give up? Well, they only happen to be the No. 1 women's tennis player and golfer in the world. If you don't know them, you're obviously a sexist fantasy football zealot.

No, no, I'll give you a pass.

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9:03pm

Tue April 17, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Those Wild And Crazy Miami Marlins

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:59 am

Billy the Marlin cheers during a game between the Miami Marlins and the Houston Astros at Marlins Park in Miami.
Mike Ehrmann Getty Images

Can I give you a word I love that you just don't hear anymore?

Zany.

It used to be that all kinds of stuff was described as "zany," but it seems to have mostly gone out for fancier words like "dysfunctional."

Now, I bring this up because most sports franchises are pretty standard issue. Oh, some are rich, some poor, some win, some lose, but only one currently, to my mind, descends to the dear old level of zany. That is the Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, or, now, as I like to call them, given their location in Little Havana, Los Zany-os.

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9:00pm

Tue April 10, 2012
Sweetness And Light

The NCAA: Is Membership Worth It?

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 6:41 am

NCAA President Mark Emmert delivers his State of the Association speech on Jan. 12 during the organization's annual convention in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings AP

Just as the public has lately been surprised to discover that football is really a very perilous game for your head, those Americans who do not pay that much attention to sports have been brought up short recently to learn better what an incredibly hypocritical and autocratic cartel is the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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