Frank Deford http://blog.wlrn.org en Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up http://blog.wlrn.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 34500 at http://blog.wlrn.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://blog.wlrn.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 34114 at http://blog.wlrn.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://blog.wlrn.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 33384 at http://blog.wlrn.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://blog.wlrn.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 33038 at http://blog.wlrn.org Don't Overlook The Unsung Umpire; Referees Can Be Pretty, Too Don't Judge Exceptional Players By The Company They Keep http://blog.wlrn.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 32677 at http://blog.wlrn.org Don't Judge Exceptional Players By The Company They Keep The Olympics: A Modern Day World's Fair (And Money Magnet) http://blog.wlrn.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 32294 at http://blog.wlrn.org The Olympics: A Modern Day World's Fair (And Money Magnet) Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New http://blog.wlrn.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 11:49:00 +0000 Frank Deford 31585 at http://blog.wlrn.org Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings http://blog.wlrn.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 30500 at http://blog.wlrn.org Time To Root, Root, Root For Final Innings There's A Reason They Call It Madness http://blog.wlrn.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 29441 at http://blog.wlrn.org There's A Reason They Call It Madness An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games http://blog.wlrn.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 27446 at http://blog.wlrn.org An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports http://blog.wlrn.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 26779 at http://blog.wlrn.org In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports Women's Team Sports: Where Is The Love? http://blog.wlrn.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 26491 at http://blog.wlrn.org Women's Team Sports: Where Is The Love? No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas http://blog.wlrn.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 25617 at http://blog.wlrn.org No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports http://blog.wlrn.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 25290 at http://blog.wlrn.org Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports Should Character Count In Sports Awards? http://blog.wlrn.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 24945 at http://blog.wlrn.org Should Character Count In Sports Awards?