Frank Deford http://hppr.org en Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up http://hppr.org/post/deford-ncaa-says-amateurism-alive-and-well-jig Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Wed, 25 Jun 2014 07:28:00 +0000 Frank Deford 33671 at http://hppr.org Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up Deford: How To Host A Sports Extravaganza That Won't Break The Bank http://hppr.org/post/deford-how-host-sports-extravaganza-wont-break-bank You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that <em>and</em> make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.<p>For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. Wed, 18 Jun 2014 07:26:00 +0000 Frank Deford 33349 at http://hppr.org Deford: How To Host A Sports Extravaganza That Won't Break The Bank Will A Triple Crown Win Save Horse Racing? Don't Bet On It http://hppr.org/post/will-triple-crown-win-save-horse-racing-dont-bet-it At the start of a movie these days, how often do you read: "Based on a true story?" But if a movie was made about California Chrome, whether or not the horse wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, it would read: "Based on a dream."<p>Because the colt — of the most undistinguished heritage, bred by neophytes and trained by a kindly septuagenarian –– well, the whole thing is a ridiculous reverie.<p>California Chrome has been dubbed America's horse, and, for his owners and trainer, the American dream has been regularly invoked. Wed, 04 Jun 2014 07:39:00 +0000 Frank Deford 32727 at http://hppr.org Will A Triple Crown Win Save Horse Racing? Don't Bet On It Don't Overlook The Unsung Umpire; Referees Can Be Pretty, Too http://hppr.org/post/dont-overlook-unsung-umpire-referees-can-be-pretty-too Not so long ago, while enjoying a libation in a decorous saloon, the proprietor — who happened to hail from the fabled Windy City — suddenly jarred the genteel assembled by turning on the Cubs game. Just at that moment, a Cubby was heading toward the plate when the throw came in, and the runner (spoiler alert!), being a Cub, was tagged out.<p>Visualize the tableau: The runner. The catcher. But also a third figure: the umpire. And see him now: feet spread well apart, solidly grounded, mask off in his left hand, and his right arm flies up, thumb to the heavens. Wed, 28 May 2014 07:36:00 +0000 Frank Deford 32422 at http://hppr.org Don't Overlook The Unsung Umpire; Referees Can Be Pretty, Too Don't Judge Exceptional Players By The Company They Keep http://hppr.org/post/dont-judge-exceptional-players-company-they-keep Ty Cobb, miserable human being that he was, is still considered the greatest American athlete of his era. But did you know the Georgia Peach never played on a championship team? Still, when the first Baseball Hall of Fame elections were held, he got the most votes –– even more than Babe Ruth.<p>Ted Williams was never a champion, either. Wed, 21 May 2014 07:17:00 +0000 Frank Deford 32115 at http://hppr.org Don't Judge Exceptional Players By The Company They Keep The Olympics: A Modern Day World's Fair (And Money Magnet) http://hppr.org/post/olympics-modern-day-worlds-fair-and-money-magnet Because it's the 50th anniversary, there's been a wave of nostalgia for the last New York World's Fair. It made me wonder: Whatever happened to World's Fairs?<p>Well, it turns out that they still exist. In fact, you, too, can go to a certified World's Fair next year in Milan, where the fun theme is "Feeding the planet, energy for life" — real cotton candy stuff that helps explain why World's Fairs are not so popular anymore.<p>I bring this up because I always thought that World's Fairs and the Olympics were sort of global first cousins, but what a contrast! Wed, 14 May 2014 07:47:00 +0000 Frank Deford 31783 at http://hppr.org The Olympics: A Modern Day World's Fair (And Money Magnet) Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New http://hppr.org/post/bad-behavior-sports-franchise-owner-thats-not-new Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA after he made racist comments.<p>Sports bans aren't new.<p>In 1990, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was banned from day-to-day management of the club by Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent.<p>Steinbrenner was reinstated in 1993.<p>Sterling is 80. Wed, 30 Apr 2014 12:15:00 +0000 Frank Deford 31177 at http://hppr.org Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings http://hppr.org/post/time-root-root-root-final-innings 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. Wed, 09 Apr 2014 07:35:00 +0000 Frank Deford 30210 at http://hppr.org Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings There's A Reason They Call It Madness http://hppr.org/post/theres-reason-they-call-it-madness 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.<p>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.<p>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.<p>Take fantasy football. Fans make up their own teams, yes, but they know who the players are. Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:08:00 +0000 Frank Deford 29285 at http://hppr.org There's A Reason They Call It Madness An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games http://hppr.org/post/olympic-shame-vladimir-putin-plays-host-winter-games 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.<p>Let's not forget that Putin was given these games by the perennially inept International Olympic Committee. Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:32:00 +0000 Frank Deford 27593 at http://hppr.org An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports http://hppr.org/post/ice-skatings-biggest-story-media-were-poor-sports 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.<p>The ex-husband of another member of the U.S. women's team, Tonya Harding, was convicted of arranging the attack. Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:23:00 +0000 Frank Deford 27021 at http://hppr.org In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports Women's Team Sports: Where Is The Love? http://hppr.org/post/womens-team-sports-where-love 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.<p>Now, even if you aren't a sports fan, you've probably heard about Vonn's fate. Even if you are a sports fan, you might well have not heard about the plight of the Sparks. Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:17:00 +0000 Frank Deford 26770 at http://hppr.org Women's Team Sports: Where Is The Love? No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas http://hppr.org/post/no-rest-ye-merry-nba-players-christmas Holidays have long been made for sports. Football has all but replaced the turkey as the signature of Thanksgiving. For decades, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day meant stadiums filled for baseball double-headers. It's almost as if games are now an excuse for holidays, rather than the other way around.<p>So I now wish you a Merry NBA Day! There will be five nationally televised pro basketball games, lasting 13 straight hours, on Wednesday.<p>Of course, Christmas is of religious heritage, and there are Christians who believe that games have no place on Christmas. Wed, 25 Dec 2013 08:22:00 +0000 Frank Deford 26012 at http://hppr.org No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports http://hppr.org/post/why-american-dream-still-alive-sports Political innocent I may be, but I find great irony in that, while everybody agrees there is massive inequality in the United States today, it's in sports where the American dream still lives — more than ever.<p>It used to be, when social mobility was at its apex here, that was the reverse in sports. The leagues were invariably dominated by dynasties. The Yankees, of course, were the American pharaohs. The Celtics ruled basketball; the Canadiens, hockey; the Browns and then the Packers, football. Once it got to the top, a team or a franchise tended to stay in the social register. Wed, 18 Dec 2013 08:01:00 +0000 Frank Deford 25717 at http://hppr.org Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports Should Character Count In Sports Awards? http://hppr.org/post/should-character-count-sports-awards The Grammy nominations are in, and the talk now is of what actors will be chosen for the Academy Awards, but not once have I heard anyone suggest that any of the singers or actors may not be nominated because of some character deficiency.<p>Likewise, when it comes to awards in theater or television or dance or literature, I don't ever recall any candidate losing out because of a personal flaw.<p>Only sports applies that peripheral off-the-field standard. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 10:07:00 +0000 Frank Deford 25413 at http://hppr.org Should Character Count In Sports Awards? To Liven Up NFL Pregame Shows, Take A Cue From 'The View'? http://hppr.org/post/liven-nfl-pregame-shows-take-cue-view The Sunday pregame shows feature interchangeable ex-players and ex-coaches saying the same banal things, one after another.<p>"They've got to cut down on turnovers."<p>"They've got to convert more third-down situations."<p>And so on. There's no human interaction, just mirthless recitations. But on female-centered shows like <em>The View</em> and <em>The Talk, </em>the hosts actually discuss, argue, hash things out, laugh for real and behave like flesh-and-blood human beings. Wed, 04 Dec 2013 08:07:00 +0000 Frank Deford 25118 at http://hppr.org To Liven Up NFL Pregame Shows, Take A Cue From 'The View'? The Horse Who Picked Up A Paintbrush http://hppr.org/post/horse-who-picked-paintbrush <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3IxwuFw3E8</p> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 08:25:00 +0000 Frank Deford 24841 at http://hppr.org The Horse Who Picked Up A Paintbrush In Basketball, It's Always About What's Next http://hppr.org/post/basketball-its-always-about-whats-next College basketball seems to get started sooner every year, like puberty in American children. Why does everything have to begin so early now, before you have time to get ready for it?<p>Things move so fast in college basketball that there are <em>three</em> players this year who are being called "the next LeBron James. Wed, 20 Nov 2013 08:00:00 +0000 Frank Deford 24553 at http://hppr.org In Basketball, It's Always About What's Next Why Has Football Become So Brutish? http://hppr.org/post/why-has-football-become-so-brutish Not surprisingly, in the explosive revelations about the Miami Dolphins team turmoil, most attention has been paid to the fact that, in the midst of a locker room predominately composed of African-American players, a white, Richie Incognito, slurred a black teammate, Jonathan Martin, with the ugliest racial epithet –– and was actually publicly supported by some blacks on the team. Wed, 13 Nov 2013 08:24:00 +0000 Frank Deford 24241 at http://hppr.org Why Has Football Become So Brutish? Root, Root, Root For The Home Team? http://hppr.org/post/root-root-root-home-team Does a citizen of any country, not just the good ole U.S. of A., have an obligation to support its national teams? For goodness sake, it's just a game, not Horatius at the Bridge standing between us and national defeat.<p>The fact is, too, that because the U.S. is so powerful, our team is usually the favorite, and, hey, it's natural to root for the underdog. Somehow I don't think it makes you a traitor if, say, you take a liking to somebody like itsy-bitsy Lithuania when it battles our juggernaut of NBA all-stars in international basketball competition. Wed, 06 Nov 2013 08:02:00 +0000 Frank Deford 23934 at http://hppr.org Root, Root, Root For The Home Team? Can NASCAR Steer Itself Back Into Popularity? http://hppr.org/post/can-nascar-steer-itself-back-popularity As the NASCAR season climaxes, America's prime motor sport continues to see its popularity in decline. For several years now, revenues and sponsorship have plummeted, leaving an audience that increasingly resembles the stereotype NASCAR so desperately thought it could grow beyond: older white Dixie working class.<p>Both ESPN and the Turner Broadcasting Co., longtime NASCAR networks, took a look at the down graphs and the down-scale demographics and didn't even bother to bid on the new TV contract.<p>Economics, of course, are part of the problem. Wed, 30 Oct 2013 09:03:00 +0000 Frank Deford 23617 at http://hppr.org Can NASCAR Steer Itself Back Into Popularity? Frank Deford: 'Some Of Us Are More Valiant Than The Rest' http://hppr.org/post/frank-deford-some-us-are-more-valiant-rest As a child, your heart is broken when you learn that your grandfather really can't pull real quarters out of your ear. And if you're a baseball fan, that disillusionment happens once more to you in life when you first hear the numbers mavens tell you that there is no clutch hitter. None. No such thing.<p>Oh my, but if you have any romance in your soul, you do so want to believe that there are people in all walks of life whom we can count on to rise to the occasion. Don't you want that?<p><em><em>Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue. Wed, 23 Oct 2013 09:19:00 +0000 Frank Deford 23311 at http://hppr.org Frank Deford: 'Some Of Us Are More Valiant Than The Rest' You Asked For It: Frank Deford's Top 12 List http://hppr.org/post/you-asked-it-frank-defords-top-12-list As a commentator, Frank Deford gets a lot of suggestions about prominent subjects that he should take to task. Usually, he has already sounded off on these suggested topics, and most of them are cut and dried, with nothing new to add. But here, Deford takes on 12 of these familiar issues — this time with brief updates.<p>Among them: a Washington Redskins name change; high school football games on national TV; hockey fights; Pete Rose and the Baseball Hall of Fame; tackle football for young boys; and the tradition of pouring Gatorade on winning coaches. Wed, 16 Oct 2013 06:59:00 +0000 Frank Deford 22993 at http://hppr.org You Asked For It: Frank Deford's Top 12 List Sick Of How U.S. Sports Are Run? Take A Look At Europe http://hppr.org/post/sick-how-us-sports-are-run-take-look-europe Complain all you want about how sports in the U.S. are run, but the playing fields aren't always greener on the other side.<p>In Europe, FIFA, the soccer federation, is dealing with problems associated with the 2022 World Cup's timing and venue. Wed, 09 Oct 2013 06:44:00 +0000 Frank Deford 22697 at http://hppr.org Sick Of How U.S. Sports Are Run? Take A Look At Europe Love Of Victory In The Time Of Steroids http://hppr.org/post/love-victory-time-steroids There's a certain anniversary irony to the fact that Alex Rodriquez's illegal doping ban appeal hearing is taking place this week, for it was, essentially, a quarter-of-a-century ago that what we think of as the drug era in sports began.<p>And here A-Rod is now, 38 years old, his body in betrayal (perhaps from years of all the drugs), hitting .244, hearing boos, even at home at Yankee Stadium, yet pleading desperately for a lesser sentence at the price of suffering more embarrassing revelations — a figure of pity that no one does.<p>So begins the second quarter century of the drug era.<p><em>C Wed, 02 Oct 2013 07:28:00 +0000 Frank Deford 22396 at http://hppr.org Love Of Victory In The Time Of Steroids Head Games: NFL Should Share Records About Concussions http://hppr.org/post/head-games-nfl-should-share-records-about-concussions Football is unique in that most players participate in only half the game — offense or defense.<p>Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, plays a more conventional defense in protecting the league from charges that it is dangerous to your head. Effectively, he stands on the Fifth Amendment. Wed, 25 Sep 2013 07:44:00 +0000 Frank Deford 22077 at http://hppr.org Head Games: NFL Should Share Records About Concussions More Than Average: Dow Jones Adds The 'Swoosh' http://hppr.org/post/more-average-dow-jones-adds-swoosh After 117 years, sports has finally made it to the big time, when, starting next Tuesday, a sports company will be included in the Dow Jones averages.<p>The Dow Jones, of course, has always preferred very serious corporations –– your banks, your automotives, your insurers. Wed, 18 Sep 2013 07:19:00 +0000 Frank Deford 21771 at http://hppr.org More Than Average: Dow Jones Adds The 'Swoosh' Diana Nyad's Accomplishment Makes America's Cup Look All Wet http://hppr.org/post/diana-nyads-accomplishment-makes-americas-cup-look-all-wet For sportswriters the fattest target has always been the America's Cup. It's too easy. It's like all those political writers who make fun of vice presidents and think they're being original. Sportswriters have been going har-de-har-har about the America's Cup even long before one of their wags said it was like watching paint dry. Or like watching grass grow. One or the other. Wed, 11 Sep 2013 07:25:00 +0000 Frank Deford 21445 at http://hppr.org Diana Nyad's Accomplishment Makes America's Cup Look All Wet Why Keep Athletes Eligible But Uneducated? http://hppr.org/post/why-keep-athletes-eligible-uneducated Each football season brings exciting plays and game heroes, but Frank Deford says the real heroes are often overlooked.<p>As another school year and college football season gets underway, Deford looks at the frustrations and challenges facing educators to keep student athletes eligible.<p><em>Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue. Wed, 04 Sep 2013 06:15:00 +0000 Frank Deford 21126 at http://hppr.org Why Keep Athletes Eligible But Uneducated? How About A Gold Medal For Human Rights For Gay People? http://hppr.org/post/how-about-gold-medal-human-rights-gay-people Let's see, now. That self-proclaimed fortress of liberty and fellowship, the International Olympic Committee, awards the Winter Olympics to Russia for 2014. After all, China worked out so well as an exemplar of freedom of the press at Beijing in 2008.<p>Then, Russia, duly a signator of the Olympic charter proclaiming the "preservation of human dignity," trots out an anti-homosexual law that would've made Ivan the Terrible have second thoughts.<p>Now, in response to this injustice, we've had some suggestions. Wed, 28 Aug 2013 07:36:00 +0000 Frank Deford 20819 at http://hppr.org How About A Gold Medal For Human Rights For Gay People?