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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5:07am

Wed July 1, 2015
Sweetness And Light

All-Star Games Are Worthless If The Players Are Not All-Stars

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 5:06 pm

A giant All-Star Game sign at Great American Ballpark during a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, on May 30 in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo AP

For those of you who haven't got your baseball All-Star ballot in, don't panic, you have until Thursday. It's convenient. You can get a ballot off the Internet, and here's the good news: You can vote 35 times.

Understand what I'm saying? Each fan can cast 35 votes. Where that magic figure comes from, I don't know. Why not 3,500 apiece? Or 35,000?

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5:09am

Wed June 24, 2015
Sweetness And Light

The Quieter Sports Season, And Why Tennis Needs Caddies

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 8:05 am

Marcel Granollers (left) and Roger Federer leave the court at the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y., last August. Commentator Frank Deford says with all that baggage, tennis needs caddies.
Leslie Billman Ai Wire/Landov

Ah, it's summer, and sport is of a sweeter sort now — don't you think? For instance, of all the jobs in sport, I think maybe the best is retrieving foul balls. The boys and girls in that job get to wear uniforms and gloves, but mostly they just sit and occasionally gather up a foul ball, then give it away to some happy fan. Isn't that a neat job?

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5:04am

Wed June 17, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Awards For Athletes Should Honor Unsung Heroes

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 7:34 pm

American tennis champion Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. (1943 - 1993) was the first black player to win a major men's tennis tournament in 1985.
Keystone Getty Images

Something of a cause célèbre has developed because ESPN has decided to present the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner. The ceremony will take place at its annual ESPYs award show in July.

Around 1980, shortly after I had helped Ashe write an autobiography, I got a call from the leader of a powerful political faction. The group wanted to increase its appeal to minorities by presenting an award to a tennis player who aided the cause of minorities in the sport. They asked if I would chair a committee to select such a person.

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3:32am

Wed May 27, 2015
Sweetness And Light

For Sports Immortality, The 3rd Or 4th Time's The Charm

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 10:56 am

Serena Williams serves the ball to Andrea Hlavackova during the first round of the French Open in Paris.
Christophe Ena AP

There is hardly a sport that has not named a version of its annual multiple championships. Two wins is not enough; you have to win three (a "Crown") or four (a "Grand Slam"). For example, if you win the three major races in thoroughbred racing, it's called the Triple Crown. In men's and women's tennis and men's golf, to win all four majors is to earn a Grand Slam.

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3:29am

Wed May 20, 2015
Sweetness And Light

The Other Sacred Thing Tom Brady Squashed: Sportsmanship

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 12:09 pm

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks to the sideline during this year's Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Sport may be dismissed as inconsequential child's play, but there is, in counterpoint, the ideal that sport is our best model for human fairness and equality — a Garden of Eden with competition. But, of course, there are snakes in this athletic garden. Rules will be broken.

To my mind there are, in ascending order, three kinds of transgressions. The first is the most simple: transgressions committed in the heat of the action, instinctively, because of frustration, failure or anger. There are referees to tend to that misconduct.

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3:23am

Wed May 13, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Was 'Deflategate' About Tom Brady's Legacy Or His Ego?

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 10:11 am

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gestures during an event at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. on May 7, 2015. An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations. Now, he faces a four-game suspension and the Patriots a $1 million fine.
Charles Krupa AP

Here's a question to ponder over your morning coffee: Why?

Why would the New England Patriots' Tom Brady get involved in a scandal? This week, Brady, who has denied any wrongdoing, was suspended four games for his alleged involvement in lowering the pressure in the footballs he threw in a playoff game.

Yet he did not seem to need to cheat to win.

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4:33am

Wed May 6, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Athletes Want To Talk To Fans Without Meddlesome Sports Journalists

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 10:25 am

Derek Jeter attends the launch party for his new website, The Players' Tribune, on Feb. 14 in New York City. The site is a platform for athletes to talk directly to fans.
Timothy Hiatt Getty Images

It's interesting to note the major differences in the way the media deals with sports stars and entertainment celebrities in public.

When entertainment personalities are interviewed, they are dressed to the nines, and the interrogation consists mostly of compliments. Athletes, however, are interviewed all grubby and sweaty, and primarily, they are rudely asked to explain themselves. Why did you strike out? How could you have possibly dropped that pass?

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3:54am

Wed April 29, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Boxing Fans Shift Focus To Small Men, Big Money

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 8:51 am

The MGM Grand marquee is reflected in an escalator with advertising for the Mayweather Pacquiao fight, which will take place Saturday in Las Vegas.
John Locher AP

It was long an article of faith among sport cognoscenti that nothing in athletics approached the sheer electric drama and glamour of a heavyweight championship fight.

Well, if you missed it, they had one of those in no less a shrine than Madison Square Garden on Saturday. You could have watched it on plain old TV if you were not already analyzing the NFL draft, following the NBA or NHL playoffs or watching the baseball season unfold. Poor, ignored heavyweights.

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3:48am

Wed April 22, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Bruce Jenner's Long History Of Clearing Hurdles

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 9:03 am

Decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner throws the javelin during an Olympic competition in Montreal on July 30, 1976.
AP

In an interview airing Friday on ABC, Bruce Jenner is expected to announce that he is transgender, though he has made no such acknowledgment.

As the public awaits his presumed revelations, Jenner is still invariably and glibly identified by his paternal connection to the Kardashian clan. It's presented almost anecdotally that he won the gold medal for the Olympic decathlon — the 10-event classic of track and field athleticism — in 1976. But back then, he was a glorified champion and called "the world's greatest athlete."

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3:43am

Wed April 15, 2015
Sweetness And Light

As American Sports Skew More Armcentric, Throwing Injuries Rise

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 8:11 am

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla throws during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on March 4, in Surprise, Ariz. He is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery this week.
Charlie Riedel AP

Whatever happened to rotator cuffs? It seems like just yesterday that every pitcher who was injured had a problem with his rotator cuff. But baseball player injuries now invariably require something called "Tommy John surgery," which has become epidemic.

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