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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3:17am

Wed October 8, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: A New Sports Talk Show By Women, But Will People Watch?

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 12:22 pm

NFL sideline reporter Alex Flanagan (center) interviews Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last year.
Mark Zaleski AP

Probably the three biggest recent stories involving women in sports have been Mo'ne Davis, Michele Roberts and Becky Hammon.

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5:10am

Wed October 1, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Goodbye To All That: Farewells In Sports

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 8:04 am

Rulon Gardner took off his shoes to symbolize his retirement after defeating Sajad Barzi, of Iran, during the men's Greco-Roman 120kg wrestling bronze medal bout at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Mark J. Terrill AP

No, no, I promise: This is not about Derek Jeter. May bats fly down my chimney and trolls enter my door if I inflict any more Derek Jeter farewell upon you. But, of course, I am a sentimental creature, and the player whose name dare not be spoken again did gush forth memories of other grand finales.

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4:02am

Wed September 24, 2014
Sweetness And Light

What We Talk About When We Talk About Race And Sports

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 1:31 pm

Florida State fans cheer Rashad Greene after a 74-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Clemson in Tallahassee, Fla., on Sept. 20. In college sports, African-American student athletes and white student audiences are the norm. Commentator Frank Deford asks why this dynamic does not make us more squeamish.
Mark Wallheiser AP

There is no doubt that race, ever sensitive in sports, is most sensitive in basketball. Given the history, this is perfectly understandable, for when African-Americans began to appear on the court in larger numbers, there was resentment, even quotas.

To many whites, men of my vintage, men I knew, there was a sense that their game was being stolen. It was a very visceral racism.

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5:02am

Wed September 17, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Is The NFL Too Big To Fail?

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 7:50 pm

The NFL has had a lot of bad press lately. But it doesn't seem to have any impact on sponsors or fans.
AJ Mast AP

There has been a crowded docket in our preeminent sport. Let's take just three cases. The defendants: the NFL, Roger Goodell and football itself.

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3:25am

Wed September 10, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The National Anthem, And The National Pastime

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 11:09 am

The Star-Spangled Banner, played before every baseball game, has become so tied to the sport that an old joke asks, "What are the last two words of the national anthem?" and answers, "Play ball!"
Michael Dwyer AP

This Sunday, Sept. 14, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of Francis Scott Key's poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" — better known today as "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And is any national anthem so identified with sports as ours?

The association is probably because the song is played before every baseball game, and baseball games are legion. It is even responsible for that oldest of sports jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!"

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3:33am

Wed September 3, 2014
Sweetness And Light

You'll Never Walk-Off Alone

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 8:22 am

Yasmani Grandal is swarmed by teammates after hitting a walk-off single to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. But commentator Frank Deford wonders why "walk-off" has become such a ubiquitous term.
Gregory Bull AP

Along with the U.S. Open in tennis, early September means baseball's pennant race is in full swing ... and no sports term has become a more maddening cliche than baseball's "walk-off."

At first it was applied only to a walk-off home run — that is, when the home team would win in the last inning with a homer — game's over, so it's a walk-off, because there's no need to run. Then there became walk-off triples, doubles, singles, sacrifice flies — even walk-off walks with the bases loaded. It's creeping walk-offism.

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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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