You’ve got a few hours to relax until NBA Finals game 2 tips off. Pass the time by reading some of the recently-deceased sportswriter Frank Deford’s most iconic pieces. He died a week ago today at age 78, and still is one of the heaviest influencers that the sporting world has ever seen. A longtime author, feature writer for Sports Illustrated, and radio personality for NPR, his list of noteworthy accomplishments is simply unmatched.
My dad has been a Sports Illustrated subscriber ever since I can remember. I have read many of Deford’s features without truly knowing just how revered he is throughout the years. My Aunt Teri texted me earlier this week insisting that I must pay tribute to him. She provided a short list of her favorite stories of his to get the ball rolling for me. Take the time to read them. You’ll be glad you did.
The greatest advice that I got during my years at Creighton was from my professor for PR and Organizational Performance. It goes something like this – “When presenting, just tell a story”. This was in reference to in-class presentations, a college student’s heady foe, but this quip can be all-encompassing. Any conversation you have – professionally, personally, online, etc. – is a chance to tell a compelling story. Every Deford tribute that I have come across in the past few days has highlighted his ability to do something so simple, tell a story, better than nearly anyone else who has devoted their life to the written word.
As a Cubs fan, the celebration of his life reminds me of Ron Santo. It took his untimely passing to earn him entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In Frank Deford’s case, his best stories have percolated through the internet in the week since he died. Take some time to read his work, as what I provide is just a drop in the bucket. I’ll update this list as I come across more of his greatest stories.
- A humorous account of how Un-American ties in sports are.
- His spicy take on why Americans don’t care about the MLS.
- His portrait of Arthur Ashe, who he helped write an autobiography.
- Any of his segments on Muhammad Ali. Also in podcast form. Another can be found here.
- A long-form feature on the commissioners of the country’s major sports, from September 1974.
We get so much information today in real-time reaction blogs, 24/7 TV programming, and 140 character spurts. Sometimes it’s nice to step back into a simpler times to get a glimpse into what past generations of sports fans were provided. Reading Frank Deford’s works is a great start.
Here’s a link to his SI Vault. Check back periodically as I add more of my favorites.