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.

Oh, poor Boston. Where is Paul Revere when we need him to alert the citizenry? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is coming! The International Olympic Committee is coming! Boston, lock up your municipal bonds and pension funds. We always thought that Beantown was wicked smart ; in fact, Boston has fancied itself as the "Athens of America." Be assured, if it gets the 2024 Olympics it can pretty much count on that. The Athens of Greece has been in financial cardiac arrest because it was...

So, we finally have our first official college football championship, and something like 50 million or so fans will be watching to see whether Oregon or Ohio State is the 33rd-best team in the country. This statement makes me, I admit, both perfectly accurate and infuriatingly facetious. Certainly, no one would dispute that even the most miserable of the 32 NFL teams is far superior to any collegiate squad, but at the same time, a great segment of America will be deeply invested in watching...

Even if you're a fairly enthusiastic sports fan — someone who can identify sportscasters Jim Nantz or Joe Buck by tenor and intonation alone — you may very well have never heard the name Doc Emrick. Mike "Doc" Emrick is the world's premier announcer for what is America's fourth team sport: ice hockey. For those who know hockey, or those aficionados who listen to a few minutes of an NHL game just to hear Emrick talk about blue lines or poke checking, he is absolutely revered. Emrick isn't even...

Several years ago, I wrote a sports Christmas story. It was about a greedy basketball superstar who, imbued with Yuletide cheer, helps save his small-market franchise. A big-time producer wanted to make a TV movie out of it. So off I went to Hollywood to turn my story into a script and thereby, in keeping with the Christmas spirit, make a killing. Let me tell you: It's hard to write a Christmas story about sport. After all, the idea of sports is to beat the other fellow, while the idea of...

Sports Illustrated named its sportsman of the year the other day, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants, which reminded me once again that you only hear the word "sportsman" anymore about the time when Sports Illustrated names its Sportsman of the Year. The term seems so archaic that it would be as if Time magazine annually chose a Gentleman of the Year. Actually, there used to be three types of sportsmen. One was simply a rich guy who dabbled financially in sport, usually yacht...

A common complaint I've long heard was that current athletes were selfish and not politically involved like their passionate forebears –– players like Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe. My response was, "Well, how many of the modern athletes' peers are especially engaged in social controversy?" It wasn't fair to compare the sensibility of the athletes of, say, 1995 or 2005 to those of 1965; the apt comparison is with other members of their own cohort. Recently, however...

For years, the great brouhaha in college football was its lack of a real playoff. But at last we have one — the four qualifying teams to be announced Sunday. The irony is that the erstwhile playoff controversy finally is resolved in a year when football has never been otherwise more controversial. Concussions, players beating up women and children, misbehaving — to use a polite adjective — players getting sweetheart treatment from adoring police, and — to use another polite adjective —...

Has there ever been a team in any sport in the United States that everybody loves as much as the San Antonio Spurs? Sure, there have been popular teams — the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Cowboys when they were America's team and not Jerry Jones' team, Notre Dame — but all those teams engendered almost as much hate as love. But everybody loves the Spurs. You love the Spurs. I love the Spurs. Have you ever heard anyone criticize the Spurs? No! The good feeling about our Spurs — and, yes, they are...

We so regularly excuse the chicanery of sport. We fans suspect that our team is just as guilty as whatever ooze bubbles to the surface elsewhere, so let it go lest we be the next one caught. For us privileged to actually be down in the rabbit hole, the sins have been so present for so long, they simply become accepted as a benign part of the landscape. Hey, it's all just fun and games, so go along, be a — well, be a good sport. Only, every now and then ... Every now and then the evils are...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TPYI_Y3pWw For those of us in sports who like to wallow in extended misery, this has been one terrific time. The Chicago Cubs hired a popular new manager, reminding us again, interminably, that they have now gone 106 years without winning the championship, eating up 51 managers in the process. Meanwhile, Cleveland has welcomed LeBron James back to its Cavaliers, so Cleveland is giddy with the possibility of having just one of its woebegone teams win a...

Every election suggests change, so given all the scandals involving football, now's an appropriate time to envision what reforms might be forced upon the sport. Well, I'll tell you: It's tough to mess with football. Now, to begin with, from hindsight, it was probably misleading to call baseball "the national pastime." The claim was, essentially, based almost entirely on the fact that baseball was the only team sport that boasted a professional presence. The World Series was our World Cup and...

Let me ask you a question: No matter what the sport, if you could only see the start of a game or the finish of a game, which would you prefer? Of course, any fool would choose to see the finish of the game. But television and the World Series don't get this. They start games late, so that people in the East who have to get up so they can put food on their table to support their family turn off the game and go to sleep. Or they become conditioned to think, "Hey, I know I won't be able to stay...

Nothing in sport reflects the changing demographics of the country more than college football — most especially the decline of the Big Ten Conference and the ascendance of the Southeastern Conference. Big Ten territory represents steel mills and coal mines, blue collars and black smoke, where America's pigskin heroes used to be weaned on frozen fields. But the SEC, in the growing Sun Belt, has completely taken over. Mississippi State is the No. 1 team in the country. Excuse me: Mississippi...

That familiar old preface we so often hear — usually from long-winded people — is: "To make a long story short." I've noticed lately that that expression has become more common, but, to make a long story short, it's been shortened to just "long story short." I'll even bet it's gotten initialed in the text universe to LSS. Well, long story short, last year I was astonished to discover that guileless fans were actually volunteering their services, for free, gratis, to the Super Bowl — which, of...

Probably the three biggest recent stories involving women in sports have been Mo'ne Davis, Michele Roberts and Becky Hammon. Since you may have already forgotten them, Davis was the Philadelphia Little League pitcher , Roberts was the lawyer who was named executive director of the NBA Players Association, and Hammon was chosen as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Three very different situations, but all three are connected by the same principle: The stories got attention only...

No, no, I promise: This is not about Derek Jeter. May bats fly down my chimney and trolls enter my door if I inflict any more Derek Jeter farewell upon you. But, of course, I am a sentimental creature, and the player whose name dare not be spoken again did gush forth memories of other grand finales. I think the most dramatic leavetakings were those accomplished by athletes who made their ultimate bow a championship. Norm Van Brocklin, the Dutchman, led the Eagles over Vince Lombardi's Packers...

There is no doubt that race, ever sensitive in sports, is most sensitive in basketball. Given the history, this is perfectly understandable, for when African-Americans began to appear on the court in larger numbers, there was resentment, even quotas. To many whites, men of my vintage, men I knew, there was a sense that their game was being stolen. It was a very visceral racism. But, of course, talent outpointed prejudice, and eventually, it was simply accepted that basketball was...

There has been a crowded docket in our preeminent sport. Let's take just three cases. The defendants: the NFL, Roger Goodell and football itself. The NFL first. If American banks, which nobody likes, are too big to fail, then the NFL, which everybody likes, is too popular to fail. Probably too big by now too. Despite all the negative news recently, has it really been damaged? Why, one of its smallest franchises, the Buffalo Bills, just drew a record price. Do you see any indication that fans...

This Sunday, Sept. 14, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of Francis Scott Key's poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" — better known today as "The Star-Spangled Banner." And is any national anthem so identified with sports as ours? The association is probably because the song is played before every baseball game, and baseball games are legion. It is even responsible for that oldest of sports jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!" But then, baseball...

Along with the U.S. Open in tennis, early September means baseball's pennant race is in full swing ... and no sports term has become a more maddening cliche than baseball's "walk-off." At first it was applied only to a walk-off home run — that is, when the home team would win in the last inning with a homer — game's over, so it's a walk-off, because there's no need to run. Then there became walk-off triples, doubles, singles, sacrifice flies — even walk-off walks with the bases loaded. It's...

There's been much criticism of the president lately, even within his own party, that he's too detached and withdrawn, not combative enough anymore. This can be explained completely with a sports analogy: We elected a basketball president, but then we ended up with a golf president. Golf is an internal game. Nobody is playing against you. Nobody is guarding you. Basketball, on the other hand — basketball is in your face, one-on-one, combative to its core. Obama actually had a court built in...

Let's boldly confront the greatest mystery in all of sport: Why do hot dogs always taste better at the ballpark? Baseball food has, of course, taken on a much greater variety since 1908, when "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" only celebrated peanuts and crackerjack. But it is another enduring mystery of sport why fans eat during a baseball game, while the preferred mode of cuisine for football is before the game, out in the parking lot — tailgating. But then, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at...

There have been two recent major developments regarding big-time college athletics. While both are tremendously significant, the conclusions in both cases were foreshadowed and there don't appear to be any devils in the details. The Big Satan — amateurism — took the hardest hit. And understand, most important of all: This is only the beginning. Many more changes in the NCAA and its anachronistic rules lie ahead. In what has been known as the O'Bannon case, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken...

If there's one rule in American sports that is universally despised, it is the National Basketball Association's stipulation that a player cannot be drafted out of high school, but must put in an extra year playing somewhere — invariably at college. It makes a sham of both education and teamwork, and when the best kids are picked up, the policy is properly ridiculed as "one-and-done." Interestingly, our four major sports leagues all have widely divergent rules for age eligibility. In baseball...

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's piddling suspension of Ray Rice of the Ravens for a mere two games for Rice's apparent violent attack upon his then-fiancee, now wife, has been met with shock and disappointment. But for now, never mind Ray Rice. The larger question is whether Goodell is good enough to serve as the leader of the NFL. Football is not only the most popular game in this country, but something more than that. In today's divided America, what other entertainment — what other...

Anybody who possesses a scintilla of good taste (and/or decency) is against the Washington football team using its longtime nickname. I don't have to scrounge for Brownie points by getting all indignant about it. The one person who is most adamant about keeping the name is Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington football franchise, and who appears to be either especially stubborn, or insensitive or both. The obscene nickname is, of course, Redskins, and increasingly it's been suggested that we...

When America entered the Great War in 1917 — a war that began 100 years ago this summer — Major League Baseball faced a special problem: It had a hefty German heritage. Its best-known team, the New York Giants under John McGraw, was even sometimes called "McGraw's Prussians" for its tough, fighting spirit. Obviously, just as sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage," that had to go, too. Among the many German-American ballplayers, the most prominent was Honus Wagner, known as The Flying Dutchman. ...

Child actors are invariably distinguished by being cute as a button, being naturals at acting and having an aggressive parent. Few of them can sustain their stardom as they grow up. Athletic prodigies, however, often continue succeeding smoothly into adulthood — look no further than LeBron James or Bryce Harper. Since girls mature earlier than boys, many female athletes become very good very early and then stay the course. This goes right on back to Suzanne Lenglen and Sonja Henie, the first...

Why is it that Europeans don't pay as much attention to time in sports as we do? You American novices to soccer, who climbed on the World Cup bandwagon this summer –– you must have been completely baffled by how soccer has a thing called "stoppage time." That means that the game goes on after regulation time is up for an undisclosed period that only the referee knows.

Or, if you've been following Wimbledon, you know that in the final fifth set for men or the deciding third set...

Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Before her skeptical eyes, amateurism has been laid out naked on a courtroom slab for a jury of all fans to see that it has no beating heart. Amateurism, Judge Wilken has been told in the case, commonly known as the O'Bannon trial, nobly protects college athletes from being exploited by evil outsiders — so the NCAA knighthood was created in order that...

Pages