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
2:35 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings

Elsa/Getty Images and Mike Groll/AP

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 7:02 am

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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Sweetness And Light
7:39 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Deford: Paying College Athletes Would Level The Playing Field

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

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 12:04 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
12:41 am
Thu March 27, 2014

The Mystery And History Of Sport's Front Office

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

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 11:35 am

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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Sweetness And Light
4:08 am
Wed March 19, 2014

There's A Reason They Call It Madness

Streeter Lecka Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:28 am

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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Sweetness And Light
9:15 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 6:32 am

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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Sweetness And Light
1:08 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 11:26 am

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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Sweetness And Light
3:18 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

It's Time To Shrink Home Plate

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

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:09 am

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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Sweetness And Light
10:59 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Michael Sam, A Distraction? Please

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

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:05 am

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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Sweetness And Light
12:55 am
Mon March 3, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 6:57 am

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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Sweetness And Light
9:22 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

America's Love Affair With Football Keeps Getting Stronger

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

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:49 am

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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