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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4:58am

Wed July 29, 2015
Sweetness And Light

Deford To Hollywood: Ban Boxing Movies

Originally published on Wed July 29, 2015 1:38 pm

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Southpaw, a new movie about a junior middleweight boxing champion who faces adversity.
Scott Garfield The Weinstein Company

Some people wanna ban boxing. I just wanna ban boxing movies.

You get the feeling sometimes that Hollywood still thinks Joe Louis is heavyweight champion and boxing is still top-tier popular? Yes, there's yet another boxing movie out, this one entitled Southpaw.

Oh, please, please. Making boxing movies when boxing is so passé would be like if Hollywood kept making showbiz movies about vaudeville.

Click the audio above to hear Frank Deford's take on movies about boxing.

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4:57am

Wed July 22, 2015
Sweetness And Light

For Love Or Money: Fans And Businesses Flock To Fantasy Sports

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 7:59 pm

Kelly Hirano, vice president of engineering, demonstrates the Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy contest during a product launch in July in San Francisco. Yahoo has designed this experience for the mobile fantasy player and offers Daily Fantasy, Full Season Fantasy, and real-time sports news and scores as an all-in-one experience.
Eric Risberg AP

In the famous Disney movie, a carpenter named Geppetto longed to have a son. He carved a puppet of a boy, and, wouldn't you know it, the wooden Pinocchio magically became a real child. Fantasy games are the Pinocchio of sport, for all who play them become Geppettos. Isn't it the dream of every fan to construct his or her own team, as Geppetto wanted to carve out a son?

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4:00am

Wed July 15, 2015
Sweetness And Light

For Women's Sports To Soar, Female Fans Must Show Support

Originally published on Wed July 15, 2015 8:52 am

Head coach Jill Ellis of the United States celebrates with fans after the USA's 5-2 victory against Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final in July.
Kevin C. Cox Getty Images

Soccer owns sports nationalism. There are world championships and continental championships in all kinds of sports, but when it comes to countries playing against each other, soccer's tournament is more spectacular than all the others put together. Hey, win the World Cup, baby, you're ticker tape on Broadway.

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4:43am

Wed July 8, 2015
Sweetness And Light

What Have The Numbers Done To America's Pastime?

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 7:36 am

Reporters and Major League Baseball employees watch a demonstration of new statistics made possible by technology upgrades at baseball stadiums during an April 20 news conference in New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Whereas numbers have never been a significant adjunct to the other performing arts, they've been stitched into the very essence of sport. Not just the score, but how fast, how far, how good. And, of course, no sport is so identified with numbers as is our American baseball.

In fact, baseball statistics have been around almost as long as baseball. But stats — which is a fairly new shortcut word, about as old as the Mets and Astros are — have proliferated recently, not only in other sports, notably basketball, but to deeper and deeper levels of baseball enlightenment.

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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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