Frank Deford

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages!

I always wanted to use that in a commentary, that wonderful circus introduction ballyhooed by the splendid ringmaster, but I could just never find the ideal spot.

Of course, had I, there would've been some people who'd say that a circus doesn't belong in with sports. But, hey, just because there's clowns around doesn't disqualify certain daredevils from being certified athletes ­­-- equestrians, tightrope walkers and those who fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

With a new baseball season just around the corner - new baseball season - there are some proposed new rules aimed at making America's national pastime less passive. But commentator Frank Deford says, foul ball.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, let's stay in Texas now, where after two decades of futility, the Dallas Cowboys are back on top of the NFL. And commentator Frank Deford says, love them or hate them, this is a good thing.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

TV ratings for the NFL are down - way down. Commentator Frank Deford has some thoughts on why, and none related to America's fascination with this election.

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In the television era, the second week of the Olympics is reserved for what is considered the marquee event: track and field.

So, the shared premier showcases of the first week are swimming and women's gymnastics. While swimming was always a spotlight sport, I was, if you will, sort of present at the creation when gymnastics became the new star lead-off hitter.

Sports gets bigger all the time, everywhere. But even with a superabundance of sport, that's not enough to satisfy our appetites, and so now we have to have make-believe sport, too. Who would've ever thought we would bet real money on our sports fantasies?

Maybe H.L. Mencken was right when he said: "I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense." And Mencken didn't even know about Ultimate Fighting or the halfpipe of snowboarding.

It's accepted that the president of the University of Missouri stepped down in a racial dispute only when the football team threatened not to play a game. The players showed us again — surprise, surprise — how powerful is football, and let's throw in basketball, too, throughout our bastions of higher education.

I have an idea to help the Republicans solve their presidential nominating dilemma: Let's have a fantasy primary campaign. The Fox network can run it, and the voters will choose which candidates they think will win the various primaries.

After all, fantasy is in, fantasy is fantastic. In sports, fantasy is giving reality a run for its money. Why should sports have all the fun?

One of the great misunderstandings about college sports, which the big-time schools love to slyly imply, is that other sports on campus must be forever grateful that football and basketball pay for their right to exist.

Moreover, there is the concomitant threat that if ever colleges had to actually pay salaries to their football and basketball players, well, then, the athletic departments would be forced to drop those other "beggar sports" that don't bring in revenue.

This is, of course, utter nonsense.

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