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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3:33am

Wed August 27, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Golf May Be Too Polite A Sport For Presidential Politics

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 8:53 am

Commentator Frank Deford advises the White House press office not to let the president be photographed in a golf cart again.
Steven Senne AP

There's been much criticism of the president lately, even within his own party, that he's too detached and withdrawn, not combative enough anymore. This can be explained completely with a sports analogy: We elected a basketball president, but then we ended up with a golf president.

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3:33am

Wed August 20, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: Frankly, Hot Dogs Best Served At The Ballpark

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 11:52 am

Between innings, racing sausages entertain Milwaukee Brewers fans.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Let's boldly confront the greatest mystery in all of sport: Why do hot dogs always taste better at the ballpark?

Baseball food has, of course, taken on a much greater variety since 1908, when "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" only celebrated peanuts and crackerjack. But it is another enduring mystery of sport why fans eat during a baseball game, while the preferred mode of cuisine for football is before the game, out in the parking lot — tailgating.

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3:26am

Wed August 13, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Amateurism's Dying Hour

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 10:15 am

Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson graces the cover of NCAA Football 14.
EA Sports

There have been two recent major developments regarding big-time college athletics. While both are tremendously significant, the conclusions in both cases were foreshadowed and there don't appear to be any devils in the details.

The Big Satan — amateurism — took the hardest hit. And understand, most important of all: This is only the beginning. Many more changes in the NCAA and its anachronistic rules lie ahead.

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3:45am

Wed August 6, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Are NBA And NFL Rules Bush League?

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:35 am

Commentator Frank Deford says part of why we can't do away with college sports is history. Football and basketball have always been tied to college.
AP

If there's one rule in American sports that is universally despised, it is the National Basketball Association's stipulation that a player cannot be drafted out of high school, but must put in an extra year playing somewhere — invariably at college. It makes a sham of both education and teamwork, and when the best kids are picked up, the policy is properly ridiculed as "one-and-done."

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4:59am

Wed July 30, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: Is Goodell Good Enough To Lead The NFL?

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:59 pm

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a press conference in May. Goodell's handling of concerns about concussions and controversies surrounding players has led commentator Frank Deford to wonder whether Goodell is up to the job.
David Goldman AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's piddling suspension of Ray Rice of the Ravens for a mere two games for Rice's apparent violent attack upon his then-fiancee, now wife, has been met with shock and disappointment.

But for now, never mind Ray Rice. The larger question is whether Goodell is good enough to serve as the leader of the NFL.

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6:10am

Wed July 23, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Washington Football Team That Must Not Be Named

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 7:51 am

In spite of mounting pressure to change the Washington Redskins' name, team owner Daniel Snyder seems to remain unmoved.
Nick Wass AP

Anybody who possesses a scintilla of good taste (and/or decency) is against the Washington football team using its longtime nickname. I don't have to scrounge for Brownie points by getting all indignant about it.

The one person who is most adamant about keeping the name is Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington football franchise, and who appears to be either especially stubborn, or insensitive or both.

The obscene nickname is, of course, Redskins, and increasingly it's been suggested that we in the media should stop saying or writing it.

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3:30am

Wed July 16, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Remembering How The Great War Changed U.S. Sports

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 11:00 am

Charles Dillon Stengel had been known as Dutch — derived from the German Deutsch. Only after the U.S. went to war was Casey Stengel born.
AP

When America entered the Great War in 1917 — a war that began 100 years ago this summer — Major League Baseball faced a special problem: It had a hefty German heritage. Its best-known team, the New York Giants under John McGraw, was even sometimes called "McGraw's Prussians" for its tough, fighting spirit. Obviously, just as sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage," that had to go, too.

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3:34am

Wed July 9, 2014
Sweetness And Light

A Golf Prodigy Grows Up, And Goes All The Way To The Top

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:31 am

American golfer Michelle Wie was a child prodigy. As an adult, she might just be the best female golfer in the world.
Tim Hales AP

Child actors are invariably distinguished by being cute as a button, being naturals at acting and having an aggressive parent. Few of them can sustain their stardom as they grow up. Athletic prodigies, however, often continue succeeding smoothly into adulthood — look no further than LeBron James or Bryce Harper.

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3:40am

Wed July 2, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Time Of Our Sports Lives: How Europe's Games Neglect The Clock

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 8:58 am

In sports, Americans only dilly-dally for crucial, life-affirming reasons: to allow commercials.
L.G. Patterson AP

Why is it that Europeans don't pay as much attention to time in sports as we do?

You American novices to soccer, who climbed on the World Cup bandwagon this summer –– you must have been completely baffled by how soccer has a thing called "stoppage time." That means that the game goes on after regulation time is up for an undisclosed period that only the referee knows.

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3:28am

Wed June 25, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 12:48 pm

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport."
Jae C. Hong AP

Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Before her skeptical eyes, amateurism has been laid out naked on a courtroom slab for a jury of all fans to see that it has no beating heart.

Amateurism, Judge Wilken has been told in the case, commonly known as the O'Bannon trial, nobly protects college athletes from being exploited by evil outsiders — so the NCAA knighthood was created in order that colleges could tie up athletes all by themselves.

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