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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Sweetness And Light
3:19 am
Wed September 18, 2013

More Than Average: Dow Jones Adds The 'Swoosh'

Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 4:01 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
3:25 am
Wed September 11, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 7:54 am

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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Sweetness And Light
2:15 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Why Keep Athletes Eligible But Uneducated?

Ersin Kisacik iStockphoto.com

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

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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Sweetness And Light
3:36 am
Wed August 28, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 5:46 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
3:05 am
Wed August 21, 2013

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

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 12:03 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
1:55 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Pete Rose Should Enter The Hall Of Fame With Ichiro Suzuki

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

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 9:16 am

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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Sweetness And Light
1:12 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Dick Kazmaier, 'A Honey Of A Guy'

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

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 5:24 am

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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Sweetness And Light
3:33 am
Wed July 31, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 1:40 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

NCAA Should 'Bolster And Reinforce' African-American Players

Jaimie D. Travis iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am

"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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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Clap If You Believe In Roger Maris

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

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:08 am

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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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Football Needs A Guardian, Not A CEO

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

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 8:03 am

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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Sweetness And Light
2:58 am
Wed July 3, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 9:52 am

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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Sweetness And Light
4:51 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Let's Separate The Schoolin' From The Sports

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 11:13 am

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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Sweetness And Light
3:23 am
Wed June 19, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 9:40 am

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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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Basketball: The 'Ultimate Contradiction'

In basketball, as in life, we may dutifully celebrate the aggregate, but we'™re always spellbound by the exceptional.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 5:53 am

Basketball offers its fans the ultimate contradiction. On the one hand, it's the sport that most depends on its stars. On the other, it's the most intimate — even organic — of all the team games, with its players more fundamentally involved with one another. Both of these opposing realities are rooted in the same base.

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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Take Golf Out Of The Rough, Into The 21st Century

Write This Down: Keeping your own score does not make you more noble, says Frank Deford.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 9:20 am

When my old pal the Sports Curmudgeon had some mildly churlish things to say about golf a few weeks ago, both he and I were upbraided by loyal linksters. As one snapped at me, "You don't know anything about golf."

Perhaps.

But I know all about golf propaganda.

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Sweetness And Light
10:04 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Backing Becks: Don't Knock The Soccer Star's Talents

David Beckham spent six years in the U.S. with the LA Galaxy before returning to Europe earlier this year.
Fred Dufour AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 9:29 am

The most unforgiving criticism in sport is directed at any athlete who fans believe is celebrated too excessively above his true talent level — especially those stars who are gloried because they're such pretty people.

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Sweetness And Light
3:32 am
Wed May 15, 2013

No. 1s: The Latest Greatest Of All Time

Watch The Throne: Not so long ago Michael Jordan was the GOAT. Now, there's a groundswell to ordain LeBron James as the greatest-of-all-time basketball player.
Fred Jewell/Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 6:19 am

The Great Gatsby is on the screen again, re-opening the perennial debate about whether or not it is the great American novel. Or was that Huckleberry Finn? Or are we still waiting for the great American novel? Is the title vacant, like most recent Tour de France championships? In the arts, the argument over the great American novel is a rather unusual great fuss about the greatest. In most disciplines there simply doesn't seem to be a passion to constantly assess who's No. 1. Except, except ...

Except in sport.

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Sports
10:03 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Ladies, Want Women's Sports To Get More Attention? Pony Up

Indiana Fever guard Erin Phillips (right) drives past Phoenix Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner during the first half of their WNBA basketball game Aug. 25.
Matt York AP

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 11:47 am

Fans of women's sports often maintain that female athletics get short shrift from the media, so it had to be something of a surprise gift when ESPN presented the start of the WNBA's draft live.

This happened as it was announced that after two abject failures in the past decade, yet another professional soccer league for women will dare venture forth in the United States.

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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Get Off My Lawn! And Other Grumblings About Sports Today

iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 10:51 am

My friend the Sports Curmudgeon called me the other day: "Hey, Frank, I got a few things to get off my chest." He was about to take off on a Fantasy Fan cruise, where devoted sports buffs are drafted as fans for desperate losing teams, but he promised to text me his complaints once the ship got out to sea.

Sure enough, here came the Sports Curmudgeon's latest rants.

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Sweetness And Light
2:55 am
Wed April 17, 2013

The Pitch For More No. 42s

Jackie Robinson during spring training at Vero Beach, Fla., in March 1956. It would be Robinson's 10th and last year with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
AP

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 2:46 pm

Yet another movie about Jackie Robinson arrived as baseball held its annual commemorative celebration of No. 42, but officials of the game are fretting over the fact that only 8 1/2 percent of current major leaguers are black.

Given that African-Americans only constitute about 13 percent of the U.S. population, and that rarely do we have any industry or school system or community population that correlates exactly to the whole country's racial or ethnic makeup, baseball's somewhat smaller black cohort hardly seems like an issue to agonize over.

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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Tiger At The Masters: The Juncture Of Exhilaration And Peril

Tiger Woods spends some time on the driving range during Monday's practice round for the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 7:20 am

Let us now ponder the exquisite status of Tiger Woods, who has clawed back to the top of the charts thereby to proclaim, with the help of his Nike mouthpiece, that his ragged and raw past few years never really happened because — ta-da –– as his ad says: "Winning takes care of everything."

And yes, indeed, he is No. 1 in the rankings again. And, too, he has a beautiful new girlfriend, although, of course, I will not mention her name here, so as not to be a member of what he calls the "stalkerazzi."

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Sports
10:03 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Baseball Isn't Dead; It Just Takes More Work To Appreciate

Some say baseball is too slow and doesn't appeal to young people. Not Frank Deford.
Rodolfo Arguedas iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 8:19 am

It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.

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Sports
10:03 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

It's Been An Ugly Year For College Basketball

This photo illustration released by Adidas shows the uniforms for NCAA basketball teams (from left) University of Cincinnati, University of Kansas, University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, UCLA and the University of Louisville.
Aaron Hewitt AP

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 4:40 am

There once was a wise old basketball coach named Arad McCutchan who led the Evansville Purple Aces to five national championships in the small-college division, dressing his Purple Aces in bright orange T-shirts. I've been reminded of this recently as a number of grubby athletic directors have sold out to the sporting goods companies, allowing their teams to be costumed in the most hideous outfits.

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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

What's The Score On Spirited Sports Banter At Bars?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:30 am

The more I travel, the more I see sports bars. They've been around for years, usually in obvious places, like in college towns or near arenas.

But now they're everywhere, even in airports and hotels, places where you'd expect generic bars. Sports bars are becoming ubiquitous and ordinary — merely, as my wife calls them, public man caves.

All bars, of course, have forever been places where men talk about sports. Other prime saloon subjects include women, the traffic and the weather.

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