In honor of legendary sportswriter Frank Deford announcing his weekly segment on NPR will be coming to an end this month, here are my two favorite passages from his amazing memoir, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, a must-read for anyone in the business.
First, on conversing with a subject for a story:
Grown-up interviewing is basically only what you learned going out on high school dates; it’s just “What kinda music do you like?” taken to a somewhat higher degree.
Second, the former high school basketball star’s take on the effect of high school sports on American life:
“… In this country, when you’re so damn young and impressionable, it’s especially exhilarating, playing for your school, with the pretty cheerleaders jumping up and down and fans yelling for you. Young tits and the roar of the crowd – all your life, you might never beat that.
“The fuss we make over high school sports is probably the main reason so many men in the United States are forever adolescent. High school sports have replaced The Western as the male American lyric.”
Can’t say I’m an NPR aficionado, but his work at Sports Illustrated impacted me greatly as I was growing up.
The world will be a lesser place without regular dispatches from Mr. Deford.
UPDATE May 29: Sports Illustrated reports Deford has passed away.