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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3:50am

Wed November 12, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Chicago Or Cleveland: Whose Teams Had More Downs Than Ups?

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 8:09 am

Joe Tinker of the Chicago Cubs and Bill Bradley of the Cleveland Naps around 1910.
Library of Congress

For those of us in sports who like to wallow in extended misery, this has been one terrific time. The Chicago Cubs hired a popular new manager, reminding us again, interminably, that they have now gone 106 years without winning the championship, eating up 51 managers in the process.

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3:32am

Wed November 5, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Americana: Hot Dogs, Apple Pie And Football?

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:02 pm

Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Karlos Dansby celebrates during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in Cleveland. The Browns won 22-17.
David Richard AP

Every election suggests change, so given all the scandals involving football, now's an appropriate time to envision what reforms might be forced upon the sport. Well, I'll tell you: It's tough to mess with football.

Now, to begin with, from hindsight, it was probably misleading to call baseball "the national pastime." The claim was, essentially, based almost entirely on the fact that baseball was the only team sport that boasted a professional presence. The World Series was our World Cup and the Olympics rolled into one.

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5:00am

Wed October 29, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Start World Series Games Earlier; Let Us Sleep

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:48 am

Fans cheer during the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park.
Rob Carr Getty Images

Let me ask you a question: No matter what the sport, if you could only see the start of a game or the finish of a game, which would you prefer? Of course, any fool would choose to see the finish of the game.

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4:33am

Wed October 22, 2014
Sweetness And Light

College Football's Big Ten Conference? Try The Littler Ten

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 10:24 am

Brandon Wells of the Mississippi State Bulldogs takes the field before a game against the Ole Miss Rebels last year.
Stacy Revere Getty Images

Nothing in sport reflects the changing demographics of the country more than college football — most especially the decline of the Big Ten Conference and the ascendance of the Southeastern Conference.

Big Ten territory represents steel mills and coal mines, blue collars and black smoke, where America's pigskin heroes used to be weaned on frozen fields. But the SEC, in the growing Sun Belt, has completely taken over. Mississippi State is the No. 1 team in the country. Excuse me: Mississippi State? This is like Antiques Roadshow soaring to the top of television ratings.

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3:39am

Wed October 15, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Nonprofit NFL Seeks Super Bowl Volunteers, Again

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 2:18 pm

Super Bowl volunteer Ben Schreiber distributes fan guides for Super Bowl XLVI festivities in 2012.
Chad Ryan CSM/Landov

That familiar old preface we so often hear — usually from long-winded people — is: "To make a long story short." I've noticed lately that that expression has become more common, but, to make a long story short, it's been shortened to just "long story short." I'll even bet it's gotten initialed in the text universe to LSS.

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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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