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.

Pages

8:03pm

Tue April 9, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Tiger At The Masters: The Juncture Of Exhilaration And Peril

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 5:20 am

Tiger Woods spends some time on the driving range during Monday's practice round for the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga.
Charlie Riedel AP

Let us now ponder the exquisite status of Tiger Woods, who has clawed back to the top of the charts thereby to proclaim, with the help of his Nike mouthpiece, that his ragged and raw past few years never really happened because — ta-da –– as his ad says: "Winning takes care of everything."

And yes, indeed, he is No. 1 in the rankings again. And, too, he has a beautiful new girlfriend, although, of course, I will not mention her name here, so as not to be a member of what he calls the "stalkerazzi."

Read more

8:03pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Sports

Baseball Isn't Dead; It Just Takes More Work To Appreciate

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 6:19 am

Some say baseball is too slow and doesn't appeal to young people. Not Frank Deford.
Rodolfo Arguedas iStockphoto.com

It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue March 26, 2013
Sports

It's Been An Ugly Year For College Basketball

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 2:40 am

This photo illustration released by Adidas shows the uniforms for NCAA basketball teams (from left) University of Cincinnati, University of Kansas, University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, UCLA and the University of Louisville.
Aaron Hewitt AP

There once was a wise old basketball coach named Arad McCutchan who led the Evansville Purple Aces to five national championships in the small-college division, dressing his Purple Aces in bright orange T-shirts. I've been reminded of this recently as a number of grubby athletic directors have sold out to the sporting goods companies, allowing their teams to be costumed in the most hideous outfits.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue March 19, 2013
Sweetness And Light

What's The Score On Spirited Sports Banter At Bars?

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 7:30 am

iStockphoto.com

The more I travel, the more I see sports bars. They've been around for years, usually in obvious places, like in college towns or near arenas.

But now they're everywhere, even in airports and hotels, places where you'd expect generic bars. Sports bars are becoming ubiquitous and ordinary — merely, as my wife calls them, public man caves.

All bars, of course, have forever been places where men talk about sports. Other prime saloon subjects include women, the traffic and the weather.

Read more

11:53pm

Tue March 12, 2013
Sweetness And Light

School Bands Should Not Be Entertainment Adjunct For Sports

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 3:36 pm

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

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.

Read more

1:21am

Wed March 6, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Catholic Universities See True Path To Salvation: Basketball

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

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

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."

Read more

8:03pm

Tue February 26, 2013
Sweetness And Light

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

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

Ronald Martinez Getty Images

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.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue February 19, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Reminders Flood In: Athletes Are People, Not Heroes

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

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

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.

Read more

12:11am

Wed February 13, 2013
Sweetness And Light

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

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

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

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.

Read more

12:01am

Wed February 6, 2013
Sweetness And Light

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

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

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

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.

Read more

11:45pm

Tue January 29, 2013
Sweetness And Light

History Joins The 49ers In Opposing Ray Lewis

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

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

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.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue January 22, 2013
Sports

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

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

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

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.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue January 15, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Love Of Football May Kick America Down The Path Of Ruination

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

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

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.

Read more

1:17am

Wed January 9, 2013
Sweetness And Light

Steroid Accusations Likely To Bench Baseball Hall Of Fame Candidates

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

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

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?

Read more

11:48pm

Tue January 1, 2013
Sweetness And Light

New Jersey Tries To Horn In On Nevada's Gambling Turf

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 9:16 am

iStockphoto.com

For those dearly devoted of you who paid attention to me in September, I noted that the best bet in the NFL had proven to be whenever a West Coast team played an East Coast team at night, because the Pacific players had their body clocks better set.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue December 18, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Time For Gun Owners To Be Good Sports About Gun Restrictions

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:44 am

Frank Deford says those who have the potential to reduce the gun violence are people who own guns and who are good sports.
LeightonPhotography iStockphoto.com

I've never had any interest in hunting. Among other things, I'm a terrible shot, but I have friends who hunt, and it appears to me to be a perfectly reasonable sports hobby — certainly every bit as honorable as fantasy football. Moreover, shooting a deer or a duck with a bullet seems to me no more inhuman than catching a trout or a marlin with a hook.

Oh, sometimes I get a little piqued that those who hunt and fish are ennobled as "sportsmen," while people who play golf are just golfers and people who bowl are just bowlers. But then, that's just me being picayune.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Sweetness And Light

NHL Lockout Leaves Fans Out In The Cold

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 5:44 am

Mike Bolt, keeper of the Stanley Cup, takes it off the ice on Dec. 7, 2012, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The NHL lockout enters its 88th day on Wednesday.
Darryl Dyck AP

The entertainment industry seems to give us only three things: sex, Justin Bieber and boxing.

Justin Bieber aside, don't producers know almost nobody cares anymore about boxing? But here we have Clifford Odets' period piece, Golden Boy, back on Broadway, and — achtung! — a musical of Rocky mounted in Germany.

Plus the usual same-old, same-old treatments are floating around. Eminem wants to make a boxing movie. Really. Worse, there are actual plans to have Sylvester Stallone fight Robert DeNiro in a boxing film. OMG — I am perfectly serious.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue December 4, 2012
Sweetness And Light

Navel-Gazing: Why Golf Should Embrace Belly Putters

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 12:20 pm

Carl Pettersson of Sweden putts for birdie on the eighth hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C., in April. The long putter he uses is in danger of being banned.
Hunter Martin Getty Images

When did "issues" become such an all-purpose, often euphemistic word for anything disagreeable? We have issues now where we used to have problems, and concerns, and troubles, and hornet's nests. Like for example: The American and British big wheels who run golf have "issues" with putting.

Now understand, modern golfers have kryptonite drivers with club heads as large as prize pumpkins, and steroid balls that would not pass the drug test, even if the hapless International Cycling Union were doing the random sampling.

Read more

8:03pm

Tue November 27, 2012
Sweetness And Light

College Football: Pro and Con(servative) Views

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 1:21 pm

Despite the Big Ten's expansion, Frank Deford says the conference will struggle to compete with pro football in the Northeast. The conference announced the addition of Maryland and Rutgers earlier this month.
Patrick McDermott Getty Images

What do anti-abortion beliefs, and patronizing Chick-fil-A, and a devotion to college sports have in common? Hmm.

Well, according to Trey Grayson, the former Kentucky secretary of state and U.S. Senate contender who is now the distinguished head of the Harvard Institute of Politics, those are the trio of giveaway markers to suggest that you are conservative.

Read more

1:15am

Wed November 21, 2012
Sweetness And Light

What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 7:49 am

Jockey Rosie Napravnik sponges off Shanghai Bobby after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

A trivia question for you: Who today is the leading jockey who was born in the U.S.?

The answer is Rosie Napravnik. Yes, of all our American jockeys, the one with the best record is a woman.

Napravnik's mounts have earned more than $11 million this year, and none of the seven jocks who have earned more began life in this country. So, even in a dangerously athletic job like race-riding, a woman can sometimes compete straight up with men.

Read more

Pages