Frank Deford http://www.kplu.org en There's A Reason They Call It Madness http://www.kplu.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 16:31:02 +0000 Frank Deford 15024 at http://www.kplu.org There's A Reason They Call It Madness A Star Tennis Coach And The End Of The All-Around Athlete http://www.kplu.org/post/star-tennis-coach-and-end-all-around-athlete Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri's deserved acceptance into the International Tennis Hall of Fame came late in life, at age 82. What makes him so important is not his long career but how he changed the way we bring up our athletic children.<p>The ultimate young athlete used to be the boy (girls didn't have the chance then) who starred in several sports. The <em>all-around </em>athlete. But Bollettieri changed that.<p>He built the Bollettieri Academy in Florida in 1978, a boarding school where young players could go to study and play tennis, if not necessarily in that order. Wed, 05 Mar 2014 18:27:01 +0000 Frank Deford 14464 at http://www.kplu.org A Star Tennis Coach And The End Of The All-Around Athlete It's Time To Shrink Home Plate http://www.kplu.org/post/its-time-shrink-home-plate It's time to make home plate smaller. I know: That's heresy; that's sacrilegious. But there are simply too many strikeouts in baseball now, and that hurts the game, because if the ball isn't in play, it's boring.<p>The size of home plate was not decreed by God. Back when it was an iron plate — where the name came from — it was, in fact, round. Wed, 26 Feb 2014 17:21:28 +0000 Frank Deford 14115 at http://www.kplu.org It's Time To Shrink Home Plate Michael Sam, A Distraction? Please http://www.kplu.org/post/michael-sam-distraction-please Now that Michael Sam, an NFL draft prospect, has announced that he is gay, there's been <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/02/10/274652475/defining-masculinity-down-the-mans-man-game">a lot of mumbling</a> that he would be a distraction — but it's really an issue of antipathy<em>.</em><p>What <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140209/michael-sam-draft-stock/">some are saying</a>, in coded language, is that too many players and fans would hate Michael Sam because he's gay, and the media will pounce on this, and that would be bad for his team and henc Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:54:21 +0000 Frank Deford 13822 at http://www.kplu.org Michael Sam, A Distraction? Please Double Axels And Death Spirals — Yes, Figure Skating Is A Sport http://www.kplu.org/post/double-axels-and-death-spirals-yes-figure-skating-sport With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"<p>Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 17:12:59 +0000 Frank Deford 13560 at http://www.kplu.org Double Axels And Death Spirals — Yes, Figure Skating Is A Sport An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games http://www.kplu.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 17:37:46 +0000 Frank Deford 13269 at http://www.kplu.org An Olympic Shame: Vladimir Putin Plays Host To Winter Games In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports http://www.kplu.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 17:46:18 +0000 Frank Deford 12767 at http://www.kplu.org In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas http://www.kplu.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 18:59:13 +0000 Frank Deford 12074 at http://www.kplu.org No Rest For Ye Merry NBA Players This Christmas Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports http://www.kplu.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 18:23:11 +0000 Frank Deford 11845 at http://www.kplu.org Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports