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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3:44am

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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3:09am

Wed March 5, 2014
Sweetness And Light

A Star Tennis Coach And The End Of The All-Around Athlete

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 12:26 pm

Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri gives instructions to a young Anna Kournikova of Russia during a training session at his tennis academy in Bradenton, Fla., in 1990. Kournikova went on to become a highly ranked international player, but she ended her career at age 21 because of injuries.
Simon Bruty Getty Images

Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri's deserved acceptance into the International Tennis Hall of Fame came late in life, at age 82. What makes him so important is not his long career but how he changed the way we bring up our athletic children.

The ultimate young athlete used to be the boy (girls didn't have the chance then) who starred in several sports. The all-around athlete. But Bollettieri changed that.

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3:38am

Wed February 26, 2014
Sweetness And Light

It's Time To Shrink Home Plate

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 11:09 am

Imagine how much livelier baseball would be with a 14-inch home plate.
Alex Brandon AP

It's time to make home plate smaller. I know: That's heresy; that's sacrilegious. But there are simply too many strikeouts in baseball now, and that hurts the game, because if the ball isn't in play, it's boring.

The size of home plate was not decreed by God. Back when it was an iron plate — where the name came from — it was, in fact, round. It became rubber and a square, 12 inches to a side, but its present distinctive shape was established in 1900 — a full 17 inches across.

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3:46am

Wed February 19, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Michael Sam, A Distraction? Please

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:05 am

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel with players Robert Luce (from left) and Michael Sam, ahead of the Cotton Bowl in January.
Tim Sharp AP

Now that Michael Sam, an NFL draft prospect, has announced that he is gay, there's been a lot of mumbling that he would be a distraction — but it's really an issue of antipathy.

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3:41am

Wed February 12, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Double Axels And Death Spirals — Yes, Figure Skating Is A Sport

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:57 am

Russia's Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar helped Russia take gold during the team figure skating competition in Sochi.
Adrian Dennis AFP/Getty Images

With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"

Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. They maintain that any sport — like figure skating, gymnastics, diving, halfpipe — that is resolved by exterior judges rather than by the participants themselves is not a true sport.

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3:32am

Wed February 5, 2014
Sweetness And Light

An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 9:33 am

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Olympic volunteers in Sochi, Russia, in January.
Alexei Nikolsky AP

You know those commercials for prescription medicines on television when they devote the first 15 seconds to the benefits of the drug and then take the next 45 telling you all the bad things that could happen if you use it? Vladimir Putin's Olympics remind me of that. For all the happiness his Winter Games are supposed to bring us, you need considerably more time to hear about all the things that could go wrong.

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2:58am

Wed January 29, 2014
Sweetness And Light

America's Love Affair With Football Keeps Getting Stronger

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:49 pm

Seattle Seahawks fans, perhaps in a moment of reflection, before the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 19.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Football fandom simply overwhelms all other sports in America, growing not just merely super, but superior, from high school right on up to this Sunday's quasi-religious festival — which celebrates our adoration of the sport as much as the sport itself.

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3:44am

Wed January 22, 2014
Sweetness And Light

In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 9:51 am

Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1992 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Orlando, Fla.
Phil Sandlin AP

It's difficult to understand why certain athletes are harshly singled out by the media, but one of the most baffling examples has to be the criticism displayed toward figure skater Nancy Kerrigan after she was clubbed in the leg at a practice session just weeks before the 1994 Olympics.

The ex-husband of another member of the U.S. women's team, Tonya Harding, was convicted of arranging the attack. Harding herself was fined and banned from the sport.

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3:05am

Wed January 15, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Women's Team Sports: Where Is The Love?

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 11:51 am

Candace Parker (right) of the Los Angeles Sparks and Candice Dupree of the Phoenix Mercury during Game 2 of their WNBA semifinal series in September.
Matt York AP

Two recent sporting disappointments underscore the state of interest in women in sports. The first: Lindsey Vonn, sadly acknowledging that her injuries were too serious, announced that she would not be able to compete in the Olympics next month. The second: The owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, acknowledging that they were overwhelmed by debt, just gave up the franchise.

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3:32am

Wed January 8, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Supporting The Home Team From The Comfort Of Your Couch

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:19 am

The Detroit Lions huddle during a snowstorm in the first half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in December.
Matt Rourke AP

Nowadays, do sports fans have to show their support by purchasing tickets? After all, the NFL makes much more money from TV than at the box office. Aren't you doing your fair share by staying comfy-warm downstairs by your own huge, high-definition TV, where you're surrounded by chosen friends and family, and have your own choice refreshments and your own toilet facilities?

These are things that come to mind with recent sporting events conducted under the most gruesome of weather conditions.

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

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