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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Sweetness And Light
10:53 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

School Bands Should Not Be Entertainment Adjunct For Sports

A marching band performs at halftime on the field during a high school football game.
Jani Bryson iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 2:36 pm

Several years ago I gave a speech in which I mentioned that athletes tended to be the only college students who were awarded scholarships for what is an extracurricular activity.

Afterward, Myles Brand, the late president of the NCAA, told me I was wrong, that many music extracurricular scholarships were awarded at colleges.

Brand and I seldom agreed on much of anything, but I've always found him to be a gentleman. So, I expressed surprise at this claim.

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Sweetness And Light
1:21 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Catholic Universities See True Path To Salvation: Basketball

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova universities have decided to leave the Big East Conference and pursue a new basketball framework.
Todd Taulman iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 9:18 am

I've always felt it's no coincidence that some basketball powerhouses — let us say, off the top of my head, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Indiana — get a few better players because those hoops museums don't do very well with football.

I mean, if I were a big-deal high school recruit, I might very well say to myself, "You know, I'd rather be a Hoosier or a Wildcat or a Jayhawk than I would go someplace where I'm just gonna be a lounge act for the glamorous Mr. Touchdowns."

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Dear College Presidents: Break The NCAA's Vise Grip On Athletes

Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 5:37 am

The great social quest in American sport is to have one prominent, active, gay male athlete step forward and identify himself.

But I have a similar quest. I seek one prominent college president to say to her trustees or to the other presidents in his conference: "The NCAA is a sham and disgrace. Let's get out of it."

We know those presidents who disdain the NCAA are out there, but, alas, none dare speak the words that will break the evil spell.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Reminders Flood In: Athletes Are People, Not Heroes

Oscar Pistorius, seen here winning a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, faces charges that he murdered his girlfriend. Pistorius also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Ben Stansall AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 2:08 pm

These have certainly been dispiriting times for those who admire athletes, who proclaim that sports build character. The horrendous shooting by Oscar Pistorius is of course, in a category mercifully unapproached since the O.J. Simpson case, but the Whole Earth Catalog of recent examples of athletic character-building is certainly noteworthy.

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Sweetness And Light
12:11 am
Wed February 13, 2013

An Oft-Told Tale: The Beauty Queen And The Quarterback

Katherine Webb (left), the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, and McCarron's mother, Dee Dee Bonner (second from left), watch McCarron celebrate after the BCS National Championship college football game on Jan. 7. Webb was caught on camera and announcer Brent Musburger enthusiastically remarked that quarterbacks "get all the good-looking women." ESPN later apologized.
John Bazemore AP

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 4:24 am

Gentlemen of a certain age might make a nostalgic note that today, Valentine's eve, is the 80th birthday of Kim Novak.

One of Miss Novak's most famous movie roles was in Picnic, where she played the gorgeous ingenue who could've married the son of the richest man in town but instead fell for a hunk of a bum who was an old football star.

Picnic is being revived on Broadway, as is Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, where — guess what? — Maggie, played by the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, is married to a hunk of a bum who is a former football star.

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Sweetness And Light
12:01 am
Wed February 6, 2013

It's The Dog Days For America's Sports Dynasties

Maltipoo Shaggy is dressed as a Yankees fan at the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in New York City last year. Commentator Frank Deford says the Yankees are turning into a home for the assisted living.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 8:51 am

Since that devilish little morality saga with Linda Evans and Joan Collins left television in 1989, there have been no dynasties in our world outside of sports.

Today, nobody says that William and Kate are continuing a dynasty or the Kennedys are a dynasty, or the Rockefellers, or even that dreadful ugly chubby family in North Korea.

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Sweetness And Light
11:45 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

History Joins The 49ers In Opposing Ray Lewis

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis speaks at a news conference in New Orleans on Monday. The Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. It will be Lewis' last game.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 7:09 am

When Secretariat won what was certified to be his last race, I went down onto the track at Woodbine, and gauging where he had crossed the finish line, snatched up the last grass that perhaps the greatest thoroughbred ever had laid hooves to in his career.

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Sports
8:03 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Sports Calendar's Black Hole Gives Us Time To Reflect On Sportswriters

According to commentator Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King — shown here during an event at Seton Hall Preparatory Academy in Dec. 2005 — is the champion model of sportswriters.
Tim Larsen AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:13 am

Sports fans are jealous of sportswriters, because it's a dream job where you get to watch games free, which is, above all, what sports fans want.

Once upon a time this was true. The sportswriters watched games, keeping score, me. . .tic. . . u. . . lous. . . ly, and then wrote it all up, so that the poor devils who had real jobs could read about the games.

Well, that's the way it was.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Love Of Football May Kick America Down The Path Of Ruination

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey lies motionless after he was hit while attempting to catch a pass during a Sept. 23, 2012, game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heyward-Bey suffered a concussion and neck strain and spent the night in the hospital under observation.
Hector Amezcua AP

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 3:37 am

This may sound far-fetched, but football reminds me of Venice. Both are so tremendously popular, but it's the very things that made them so that could sow the seeds of their ruin.

Venice, of course, is so special because of its unique island geography, which, as the world's ecosystem changes, is precisely what now puts it at risk. And as it is the violent nature of football that makes it so attractive, the understanding of how that brutality can damage those who play the game is what may threaten it, even as now the sport climbs to ever new heights of popularity.

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Sweetness And Light
1:17 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Steroid Accusations Likely To Bench Baseball Hall Of Fame Candidates

Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees on Oct. 16. Morris is a candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 4:26 am

The results of this year's baseball Hall of Fame voting will be revealed on Wednesday.

Given the exit polling, it appears both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as well as other candidates stained by accusations of steroid use, will not be admitted.

Among other reasons for not voting for them, I would suspect that accusations against Lance Armstrong for using performance-enhancing drugs in cycling is bound to have some carry-over effect. At a certain point, when the circumstantial evidence for drug use is so compelling, who can possibly believe these guys?

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