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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3:47am

Wed May 14, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Olympics: A Modern Day World's Fair (And Money Magnet)

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 12:50 pm

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Comcast Corp. chairman Brian Roberts signed an agreement this month that secures U.S. broadcast rights for NBC Universal through 2032.
Arnaud Meylan AP

Because it's the 50th anniversary, there's been a wave of nostalgia for the last New York World's Fair. It made me wonder: Whatever happened to World's Fairs?

Well, it turns out that they still exist. In fact, you, too, can go to a certified World's Fair next year in Milan, where the fun theme is "Feeding the planet, energy for life" — real cotton candy stuff that helps explain why World's Fairs are not so popular anymore.

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3:37am

Wed May 7, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Draft Season: All-American, Twisted And Downright Infectious

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 2:08 pm

Fans outside Radio City Music Hall show support for their teams during the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25, 2013, in New York.
Al Bello Getty Images

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, there is now a fifth season in major American team sports to go along with baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey. Well, it's sort of an adjunct season, but it's very real and is passionately followed by die-hard fans. It is the draft season, which begins tomorrow with the NFL and extends through late June, when the NHL holds its draft. The NBA and Major League Baseball hold theirs in between.

Fans love real draft days.

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7:49am

Wed April 30, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 9:13 am

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling at a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 7, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA after he made racist comments.

Sports bans aren't new.

In 1990, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was banned from day-to-day management of the club by Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent.

Steinbrenner was reinstated in 1993.

Sterling is 80. He comes from another time and is not only the senior NBA owner –– since 1981 –– but also, although probably this won't surprise you, historically the very worst owner in all of sport.

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5:23am

Wed April 23, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Sports Reporting: The Way It Was ... And Is

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 10:08 am

Back in the day, people used to ask Frank Deford who he thought was the greatest boxer. Nowadays, nobody even asks about boxing.
Getty Images

When I was a young, cocksure lad in this business, one thing I hated was for anyone in the Old Guard to preface an observation about sports by saying, "It used to be ... "

Invariably, the point was that it used to be better.

I promised myself that I'd never become a "used-to-be" guy. But for the benefit of today's young, cocksure lads in the business, here I go:

It used to be that people always asked me if athletes weren't making too much money. Nobody ever asks me that anymore. The only money issue I hear now is, "Why aren't college athletes paid?"

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3:44am

Wed April 16, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Despite Everything, Tiger Will Always Be No. 1

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 4:33 pm

Frank Deford says there'll never be another Tiger Woods of any sport.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Most famously, Babe Ruth has been credited with saving baseball after the Black Sox scandal. Riding on the wave of the women's movement, Billie Jean King more or less created women's professional tennis. And Muhammad Ali kept boxing alive for its last hurrah.

But really, especially over a sustained period of time, has any one athlete ever mattered so much to a sport as Tiger Woods does to men's golf?

Anyone? Ever?

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

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3:35am

Wed April 9, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 8:02 am

Elsa/Getty Images and Mike Groll/AP

Sometimes the most disparate of people end up as pairs. As baseball begins, here's your 2014 All-Star Odd Couple: Bud Selig and Derek Jeter. But different as these personalities are, different as their positions, they've survived for so long together, and now both have announced that this season is their swan song.

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3:57am

Wed April 2, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: Paying College Athletes Would Level The Playing Field

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 1:04 pm

Paycheck Players: Love of the game may no longer be enough motivation for college athletes.
iStockphoto

For many decades, baseball had a reserve clause, which essentially tied a baseball player to a franchise in perpetuity. The statute fell into legal jeopardy, and a few wise men amongst the owners said, maybe we ought to toss these players a bone, before we blow the whole scam.

But the owners were arrogant and stood pat, and, soon enough, the reserve clause, kit and caboodle, was outlawed as, essentially, un-American.

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3:19am

Wed March 26, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Mystery And History Of Sport's Front Office

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 12:35 pm

Phil Jackson recently signed on as the new president of the New York Knicks.
Mark Lennihan AP

One great mystery of sport is why they call the place that the general manager rules over the front office. Obviously, it's the box office that's out front. What they call the front office is really the "office office."

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5:08am

Wed March 19, 2014
Sweetness And Light

There's A Reason They Call It Madness

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:28 am

Streeter Lecka Getty Images

More than any other nation, America is awash in teams. There are the pro teams, the college team, the high school team, the fantasy teams.

Well, at a certain point, something has to give — and apparently, the team sport that's given way the most is men's college basketball.

Yes, college hoops has its fleeting moment in the vernal equinox. It's fun. You make out brackets — but it's not like other sports where you're familiar with the principals.

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3:44am

Wed March 12, 2014
Sweetness And Light

In Sports, There's No Such Thing As A Bad Hustle

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:32 am

Pete Rose swings for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1985 season. Rose, aka "Charlie Hustle," famously ran to first base even when he was given a walk.
Stephen Dunn Getty Images

Surely, "hustle" is the single most beloved word associated with sport. As color is to rainbows, as chocolate to the palate, as sweet nothings to love, hustle is to sport.

Hear it now:

Hustle up!
Hustle down the line!
Show us more hustle!

And oh, my, how often are you gonna hear this in the weeks ahead during March Madness: They gotta hustle back on defense. That, apparently, is the only way human beings can properly get back on defense.

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