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Barnes and... A Conversation with Frank DeFord

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Steve talks sports with writer and commentator Frank Deford.   He is the author of sixteen books, commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition, and senior correspondent on HBO’s RealSports With Bryant Gumbel.   During the program Deford talks about his coverage of sports and how it has evolved and changed over the years.

Transcript

HELLO AGAIN, EVERYONE, AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU DIDN'T JUST STUMBLE UPON THIS PROGRAM. YOU KNOW FRANK DEFORD FOR A HALF CENTURY, HAS BEEN A MAIN STAY, THE BACKBONE OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, ESPN, HBO, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO. ALONG THEN AS A SPORTS WRITER, SOMETIMES A NOVELIST, SOMETIMES AN AUTHOR DELVING INTO OTHER SUBJECTS AS WELL. HE'S PICKED UP EVERY JOURNALISTIC AND LITERARY AWARD INCLUDING FRANK DA FOR THE THE NATIONAL HUMANITIES MEDAL. SO, CONGRATULATIONS ON THAT VERY MUCH AND THANK YOU FOR COMING TO LITTLE ROCK TO RAISE MONEY FOR NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO. AND ITS AFFILIATES KUAR AND KLRE. AND FOR THE WORK THAT YOU DO OCCASIONALLY AS WELL FOR PUBLIC TELEVISION.

YES, AND I'M DELIGHTED TO BE HERE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I HAVEN'T BEEN BACK IN LITTLE ROCK IN SEVERAL YEARS. THE LAST TIME I WAS DOING A STORY ON LARRY JONES FOR HBO AND SO IT'S NICE TO BE BACK HERE.

HOST: YOUR WERE ON THE HUMANITIES COUNCIL.

CORRECT.

HOST: BUT YOU HAVE HELPED CHANGE THE WAY AMERICANS LOOK AT SPORTS OR REGARD SPORTS. CERTAINLY HOW IT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS.

HOW IT'S CHANGED?

HOST: YES.

OH, GOSH.

HOST: AS OPPOSED TO THE WAY WE LOOK AT IT.

YOU CAN SEE THE WAY WE LOOK AT IT. FOR EXAMPLE, I THINK THE WAY IT'S CHANGED MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IS WITH OTHER SPORTS. YOU CAN CERTAINLY SEE THAT. WHEN I STARTED IT WAS VERY UNUSUAL FOR GIRLS TO EVEN HAVE TEAMS. AND THE GIRL WHO PLAYED SPORTS, IT WAS A LITTLE BIT ODD, MOST OF THEM, TOM BOY WAS THE EXPRESSION. NOT NECESSARILY IN A COMPLIMENTARY FASHION. SO, THAT'S NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, OF COURSE, IS THE MONEY, EXPOSURE OF MONEY. HAS TO DO WITH CAPITAL RIGHT THERE.

HOST: SURE.

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THE RIGHT SPORTS. SURELY IT'S CHANGED EXPONENTIALLY IN THE YEARS I'VE BEEN INVOLVED.

HOST: I'D LIKE TO GO INTO THAT IN A BIT MORE DETAIL. BUT FIRST, DO YOU THINK THERE IS SOMETHING MORE -- A LOT OF US GREW UP IN THIS AREA LISTENING TO THE CARDINALS ON RADIO OR BECAUSE OF A BLACKOUT RULING, WATCHING THE YANKEES. IT SEEMS TO ME MORE MOLECULAR IN A WAY OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SPORTS.

I THINK THIS IS TRUE ALL OVER THE WORLD. AGAIN, IT'S THE TELEVISION WHICH HAS BROUGHT US TOGETHER, SO TO SPEAK. THE PEOPLE WHO COULD EASILY AVOID SPORTS BEFORE. NOW THE MOLECULES, YOU'RE GOING TO BUMP INTO EACH OTHER. YOU CAN'T HELP IT. IT'S SUCH A -- SPORTS IS, IT'S FORCED ITSELF INTO OUR LIVES. SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO -- ON NPR, I ALWAYS MAKE THE POINT OF SAYING THAT THEY DIDN'T USE TO LIKE SPORTS. SOMETHING YOU CAN'T AVOID.

HOST: ARE WE BETTER OFF FOR IT OR IS THERE ANY ARGUMENT OR ANY POINT IN ARGUING -- WHAT ARE THE OTHER ENTERTAINMENTS?

I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT IT THAT WAY. IF YOU WEREN'T WATCHING SPORTS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? THAT'S THE COME BACK TO THAT. IF YOU'RE WATCHING ANOTHER CHANNEL ON THE TELEVISION, I DON'T KNOW IF IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. I THINK YOU A LOT OF ARGUMENTS COULD BE MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TOO INVOLVED IN SPORTS. IT'S A DETRIMENT OF PEOPLE WHO, FOR EXAMPLE, WHO SEE SPORTS AS A WAY FOR THEIR CHILDREN TO GO TO COLLEGE, STAY OUT OF -- YOU'RE GOING TO GET A COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP, THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE TO STUDY. PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT COLLEGE SPORTS WITHOUT REALLY CARING ABOUT THE COLLEGES, THE ACADEMIC STYLE. SO, YEAH, YOU CAN GO OVERBOARD. BUT I ALWAYS SAY -- THIS IS INTERESTING. AMERICA IS HEALTHIER IN ONE WAY THAN MOST COUNTRIES. MOST COUNTRIES ONLY CARE PREDOMINANTLY ABOUT SOCCER, YOU KNOW. THEY LOVE -- THEY JUST HAVE SOCCER, SO INVOLVED IN SOCCER. AT LEAST WE CHANGE OUR PREFERENCE. YOUR FOOTBALL TEAM LOSES, YOU MOVE ON TO YOUR BASKETBALL TEAM. WE'RE NOT QUITE AS CRAZY AS SOME PLACES.

HOST: THEY DON'T USUALLY KILL THEMSELVES. BUT HAVE WE LOST SOMETHING?

WE'VE LOST ALLUSIONS. I DON'T THINK THAT ANY -- LET ME ALSO SAY THIS. LET ME STOP MYSELF. WE'VE ALSO LOST ALLUSIONS ABOUT POLITICIANS. WE'VE LOST ALLUSIONS ABOUT CLERGY MEN. WE'VE LOST ALLUSIONS ABOUT A LOT OF PEOPLE BECAUSE THERE IS SO LITTLE PRIVACY TODAY AND THE SPOTLIGHT SHINES SO BRIGHTLY ON EVERYBODY. THERE ARE NO CORNERS TO HIDE IN. BUT THE OLD IDEA THAT LITTLE CHILDREN WOULD LOOK UP TO THAT AND WORSHIP THEM, I THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE A PRETTY NAIVE LITTLE KID TODAY WHO WOULD WORSHIP A BALL PLAYER FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT WHAT HE CAN DO ON THE DIAMOND OR ON THE FIELD OR ON THE COURSE.

HOST: ARE WE BETTER FOR THAT? SEEMS LIKE WE'VE LOST SOMETHING.

IT'S NICE TO HAVE ALLUSIONS. I THINK CHILDREN GROW UP TOO FAST AS IT IS. SO, I WOULD SAY BY NOT JUST BEING AN OLD MAN LOOKING BACK IN TIME THE WAY IT WAS WHEN I WAS A CHILD, YEAH, I THINK IT WAS SORT OF FUN TO BE -- WE'VE LOST INNOCENCE.

HOST: I THINK I WAS IN MY 20S, MAYBE MY 30S -- MY 20S BEFORE I LEARNED WHAT AT TIMES REPREHENSIBLE CHARACTER MICKEY MANTLE COULD BE, WITH HIS TEAMMATES, WITH HAD I FAMILY. ~ HIS FAMILY.

THAT'S FOR SURE. ACTUALLY, HE WAS A WARM HEARTED GUY, MICKEY WAS. BUT YES, VERY FEW PEOPLE KNEW THAT AMERICA'S HEROES DRANK AND WOMANIZED AND OTHERWISE CARRIED ON IN A FASHIONABLE WAYS ~. IT WAS NICE TO HAVE THAT INNOCENCE, BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S POSSIBLE TO BRING IT BACK IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, WHETHER IN SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT. WE JUST KNOW TOO MUCH NOW. WE JUST KNOW TOO DAMN MUCH.

HOST: SPEAKING OF MANTLE OR HIS HEIRS, AS WE DO THIS BROADCAST, THE SERIES WILL BE OVER BY THIS TIME. THERE IS VERY LITTLE LIKELIHOOD THEY'LL MAKE IT INTO THE FIRST STAGE OF THE SEASON. THEY'RE OLD, THEY'RE DISEASED, THEY'RE DISABLED, DOTT ERRING, AND I HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU'RE DELIGHTED BY THAT. [LAUGHTER]

THE FUNNY THING IS I LIVED IN NEW YORK FOR 50 YEARS. I AM A NEW YORKER THROUGH AND THROUGH, BUT IT'S ALMOST -- EXCEPT -- EXCUSE ME, EXCEPT FOR THE YANKEES.

HOST: IT'S ALMOST FASHIONABLE FOR THE NEW YORKERS TO DISLIKE YANKEES.

YOU HAVE A DIVIDE, A COMPLETE DIVIDE. THERE IS NO GRAY AREA WHEN IT COMES TO THE YANKEES. YOU EITHER HATE THEM OR YOU LOVE THEM. YOU SEE AN AWFUL LOT OF NEW YORK YANKEE HATS AROUND. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ADORE THE YANKEES, WHO LIKE BEING WITH A WINNER AND THE YANKEES HAVE BEEN WINNERS. AND NOW THAT THEY ARE IN A -- I TRY TO THINK OF SOMETHING -- [LAUGHTER]

CERTAINLY -- A BAD MOMENT, IN A BAD PLACE. I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER.

HOST: WELL, ONE MORE THING ON THAT ON PROFESSIONAL, I WANT TO GO TO COLLEGIATE. [INAUDIBLE].

YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR AN EDGE. THIS GOES BACK -- SOME OF US USED TO [INAUDIBLE]. THAT LITTLE, YOU KNOW, YOU WERE GOING TO RUN A HUNDRED METER RACE OR SOMETHING. SO, YOU'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE EDGE AND YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DRUG AND SPORTS. YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO ERADICATE IT BECAUSE SOMETIMES THE ROBBERS ARE GOING TO STAY AHEAD OF THE COPS. BUT I DO THINK THAT THE MORE YOU CAN DO TO KEEP DRUGS OUT OF SPORTS, THE BETTER IT IS. WE TALKED ABOUT ALLUSIONS. LET'S AT LEAST KEEP THE ALLUSION ALIVE THAT THEY ARE DOING THINGS WITH THEIR REAL BODIES AND NOT ENHANCED IN ANY WAY BY PHARMACEUTICALS. SO, I'M GLAD TO SEE WHAT BASEBALL HAS DONE. I THINK IT SHOULD BE STRONGER. IT SHOULD BE THROWN OUT OF ATHLETICS FOR TWO YEARS. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY YOU'RE GOING TO STOP T.

HOST: SPEAKING OF LOST ALLUSIONS OR INNOCENCE, WHICHEVER, IT'S BEEN PROBABLY A NUMBER OF YEARS NOW SINCE ANYONE IN THE PAPER HAD MANY ALLUSIONS ABOUT COLLEGE SPORTS. AND IT JUST GOT WORSE OVER THE YEARS. MAYBE FOR PENN STATE IN RECENT TIMES ANYWAY. I'LL LET YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE NCAA HAS NOT BEEN GENEROUS.

NO, I HAVE BEEN A LONG-TIME CRITIC OF THE NCAA AND I FIND MYSELF NOW IN THE MAJORITY. AS YOU SAY, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO READ ANYTHING ABOUT THE NCAA. IN FACT, LOOKING -- IT'S GREAT TO SEE THE HUMBUG. THE KID DON'T CARE. IT'S BASICALLY AN INSTITUTION FOR ATHLETIC COLLECTORS. IT'S A TRADE ORGANIZATION, IF YOU WILL. THERE IS A CASE COMING DOWN WHICH IS IN FEDERAL COURT, PROBABLY GOING TO BE RESOLVED NEXT JUNE OR JULY, ABOUT THE NCAA USING THE INNOCENCE OF PLAYERS AND NOT PAYING THEM. AND EVERY INDICATION IS THAT THE JUDGE IS GOING TO RULE IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFFS, AGAINST THE NCAA, OVER MOTIONS THAT THE NCAA HAVE PUT UP SO FAR DISREGARDED. THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE THINGS. THAT'S GOING TO START THE CHANGE. I THINK PUBLIC OPINION IS SO MUCH AGAINST THE NCAA, CHANGE HAS HAPPENED THERE.

HOST: ONE CHANGE THAT HAS BEEN ADVOCATED BY SOME, IN FACT NOT PAID PLAYERS, NOT COMPENSATE THEM.

IT'S SO IMPOSSIBLE. IT USED TO BE THAT YOU COULD MAKE SOME SORT OF JUSTIFICATION FOR AMATEUR -- THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY OUT THERE. ONE BY ONE, ALL THE SPORTS THAT WERE AMATEUR HAVE GIVEN UP THE GHOST. USED TO BE AN AMATEUR SPORT. SWIMMING, TRACK AND FIELD, RUGBY. ONE BY ONE, THEY'VE MADE MONEY, COMPETITORS EXCEPT THE GREAT CAPITALISTIC -- EXCEPT COLLEGE BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL. IT'S IMMORAL IS WHAT IT IS. I MEAN SIMPLY SINFUL THAT A COACH CAN MAKE $5 MILLION AND THE KIDS PLAYING FOR HIM CAN'T MAKE A LIVING. IT'S GOING TO CHANGE. THE ONLY QUESTION IS TO WHAT DEGREE IS IT GOING TO CHANGE. WILL THERE BE A GROUP OF MAJOR STATE UNIVERSITIES LIKE THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS WHICH WILL BREAK OFF IN THEIR OWN KIND OF PROFESSIONAL DIVISION? WILL THE NCAA COMPLETELY SHATTER WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN? WE DON'T KNOW THAT. BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT ATHLETES WILL BE PAID WITHIN A VERY FEW YEARS.

HOST: WILL THAT CHANGE ANYTHING? IT MAY CHANGE THE FISCAL DYNAMIC.

ONE THING, IT WILL GET RID OF THE DECEIT AND CORRUPTION THAT'S THERE. I SHOULD STOP THAT. IT'S NOT GOING TO GET RID OF -- THERE IS SUCH ACADEMIC COLLECTION INVOLVED WITH ATHLETES AND WHICH WE HAVE A TERRIBLE SITUATION WITH LITERALLY KIDS WHO ARE LITERALLY ILLITERATE. ARE PUT ON MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS. THEY CAN'T READ OR WRITE AT A THIRD GRADE LEVEL AND THEY'RE IN COLLEGE AND THEY ARE HELPED BY TUTORS AND THEY ARE CHEATED FOR. SO, I THINK THAT HAS TO BE CHANGED AS WELL. IF I HAD MY WAY, YOU COULD BRING KIDS AND PLAY FOR THE UNIVERSITY FOR FOUR YEARS THE WAY IT IS NOW. YOU PAY THEM AND IF THEY WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE, FINE. THEY'RE JUST HIRED HANDS. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO CLEAR IT UP.

HOST: WHICH IS A SEAT CHANGE FROM THE --

I'M A RADICAL. BUT, YOU SEE, I THINK THAT COMES FROM BEING SO CLOSE TO IT FOR SO LONG. BUT YOU EITHER ACCEPT IT AND SAY, WELL, EVERYBODY DOES IT AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS. IT'S NOT HURTING ANYBODY AND IT BRINGS ATTENTION TO THE UNIVERSITY -- YOU EITHER SAY THAT OR YOU SAY THIS REALLY STINKS AND I'M AFRAID THAT OVER THE YEARS I HAVE COME TO SMELL IT MORE AND MORE AND MORE.

HOST: ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL ABOUT THE IMPACT OF REGULATION OF NCAA, COLLEGE ATHLETICS? BECAUSE THAT IS THE ARGUMENT OF DIRECTORS, COACHES, CHANCELLORS, IS THAT THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT IS THE -- THE ENTRY POINT FOR BIG DONORS.

YES, THAT'S TRUE TO SOME EXTENT. BUT WE FIND -- MOST OF THE STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE ON THIS. SOME HAVE COME UP WITH DIFFERENT -- THE MAJOR ONE SEEMS TO BE THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE ATTRACTED BY FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL, WHEN THEY GIVE MONEY TO THEIR SCHOOL, THEY DON'T GIVE IT TO THE SCHOOL, THEY GIVE IT TO THE FOOTBALL TEAM AND THE BASEBALL AND BASKETBALL. THEY GIVE IT TO THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT. THEY'RE NOT INCLINED TO SAY, GEE, I LOVE THE FOOTBALL TEAM. WE WENT TO THE BOWL, THEREFORE I'M GOING TO GIVE MONEY TO THE LIBRARY. DOESN'T WORK QUITE THAT WAY. THE TEAM DOES WELL FOR THE UNIVERSITY, IT TURNS OUT MOST OF THE ONES WHO APPLY ARE SPORTS FANS. THEY'RE NOT NECESSARILY BETTER STUDENTS. SO, THE JUSTIFICATION OF FOOTBALL IS A GOOD ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE SCHOOL. TRUE, BUT I THINK -- I HAVE A FEELING THAT EDUCATION IS BETTER SERVED WITHOUT THAT AT THE TOP. WE'VE GONE TO 16TH IN THE WORLD NOW IN TERMS OF HOW WELL EDUCATED WE ARE. WE HAVE A LOT OF GREAT UNIVERSITIES, BUT WE'RE ALSO THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT MIXES ACADEMICS AND ATHLETICS AND I DON'T THINK THAT WE CAN CONTINUE THAT WAY IN A WORLD WHICH IS SO COMPETITIVE. AT THE END OF THE DAY, CONCENTRATION ON ATHLETICS -- BY THE WAY, STEVE, I'M ALSO TALKING ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS. THE INTEREST, THE EMPHASIS ON ATHLETICS HURTS [INAUDIBLE].

HOST: WE HAVE YOUNGSTERS 6, 7, 8 TRYING TO GET A MOVE UP TO A 95 MILE AN HOUR FAST BALL, GET THAT CURVE UNDER CONTROL AND THEY'RE DOING THINGS TO ELBOWS AND JOINTS MORE THAN EVER.

YOU KNOW, I'M CERTAINLY NOT ANY PHYSIOLOGICAL EXPERT, BUT I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT A KID SHOULD NOT CONCENTRATE ON A SPORT AT AN EARLY LEVEL NO MATTER WHAT IT IS, PARTICULARLY SOMETHING LIKE THROWING A BASEBALL. THAT YOU'RE MUCH BELTER OFF DEVELOPING ALL THE MUSCLES IN YOUR BODY WITH DIFFERENT SETS. BUT WE HAVE THIS SITUATION NOW WHERE THE PARENT SAYS, YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE NEXT GREAT PITCHER SO YOU'RE GOING TO DO NOTHING BUT PITCH FROM THE TIME YOU'RE 6 YEARS OLD. NOTHING BUT CATCH PASSES. THAT IS POSSIBLE FOR A CHILD. WE'RE MUCH BETTER OFF WHEN A GOOD ATHLETE PLAYS LOTS OF SPORTS.

HOST: THREE LETTERS.

RIGHT, THAT'S COMPLETELY GONE -- YOU HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ON A SPORT AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT WHEN YOU'RE A CHILD. AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN TALKED ABOUT CONCUSSIONS, HAVE WE?

HOST: BILLION, THE NFL.

THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT THAT, THE REST OF THE NFL IS GOING TO SUE, WHAT IF THEY START SUING COLLEGES? WHAT IF THEY START SUING HOME SCHOOLS? WHEN DO HIGH SCHOOLS SAY, GEE, I DON'T THINK WE CAN AFFORD THIS? IT'S A VERY EXPENSIVE SPORT TO START WITH. AND THE SUITS ARE COMING DOWN. SO, FOOTBALL IS SO WOVEN IN OUR CULTURE, THOUGH.

HOST: SCHOOL FOOTBALL, ALL FOOTBALL.

IT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH, EMOTIONALLY FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. AS PEOPLE SAY, WE'VE GOT ENOUGH FOOTBALL. AND AS MORE AND MORE PARENTS SAY, I DON'T WANT MY CHILD TO PLAY FOOTBALL. I DON'T WANT MY SON TO PLAY FOOTBALL, THEN FOOTBALL WILL BECOME A GLADIATOR GAME FOR THE LOWER CLASSES.

HOST: WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO FOOTBALL IN 20 YEARS? YOU GOT STARTED IN SPORTS JOURNALISM ROUGHLY THE SAME TIME ~ THAT THE NEW JOURNALISM CAME ALONG.

YES.

HOST: YOU AND HALVERSTAM, WONDERFUL SPORTS WRITERS, RICE AND CANON AND MURRY, DAVE ANDERSON. BUT WHAT'S BEEN SAID ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BROTHER IS THAT YOU QUICKLY ENOUGH CONCLUDED THE QUICK TALK OF A GAME IN AN AGE OF BROADCASTING WAS GOING TO BE DEVALUED FOR THE LEADER, AND THE PEOPLE OF SPORTS WHO ARE OFTEN [INAUDIBLE].

WHEN I WAS GROWING UP BEFORE WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, THE STAR OF SPORTS JOURNALISM WAS THE COLUMNIST. YOU CAN SEE IT DOWN THE LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE FRONT PAGE, SOMETIMES THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN TOWN. CERTAINLY HE WAS THE -- SPORTS JOURNALISM, THAT MEANT COVERING GAMES, BEING AN EXPERT, WRITING IT OUT AFTER THE GAME, TYPING IT AWAY. AND THEN LIKE CANON, RICE YOU MENTIONED, A YEAR, 3500 WORDS A DAY. AND, YEAH, I HAD ALMOST SORT OF A ROAD TO DAMASCUS KIND OF EXPERIENCE. IT OCCURRED TO ME AT ONE TIME, AN EDITOR CALLED UP AFTER I HANDED IN A BASKETBALL STORY ON THE ROAD. HE SAID, WHY DIDN'T YOU IMPROVE SUCH AND SUCH? AND I DIDN'T KNOW BASKETBALL FROM HOCKEY. IT OCCURRED TO ME -- HE HE HEARD THE ANNOUNCER SAY THAT. I'M JUST ME. AFTER THAT, I NEVER WANTED TO COVER GAMES. I WANTED TO COVER SPORTS. BUT I ONLY COVERED ISSUES. AND THAT TO ME IS WHERE I EMERGE FROM BEFORE.

HOST: I DO THINK THE ALMIGHTY GIVES INDIVIDUALS FOR PICKING UP SPORTS IN THE MORNING [INAUDIBLE]. BUT AT ANY RATE, SPORTS WRITING, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, --

OH, YES.

HOST: YOU AND SOME OF YOUR BROTHERS [INAUDIBLE].

IT'S THE EASIEST THING TO WRITE ABOUT. YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T GIVE ANY CREDIT. HEROES AND VILLAINS AND GLAMOUR. IF YOU CAN'T WRITE SPORTS, YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE ROOM. IN MANY WAYS, I DON'T GET MYSELF ANY CREDIT. BUT ABSOLUTELY, BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET THERE ARE SO MANY GAMES. WE DON'T GET AS MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO WRITE, THOUGH. EVERYTHING HAS TO BE PUSHED OUT IN TIME WHERE EVERYTHING -- YOU'RE WRITING, GET IT IN, WHAT'S NEW. SEE GUYS IN THE PRESS BOX. THEY'RE NOT CATCHING THE GAME. THEY HAVE TO GET SOME NUGGET IN. STAY ON TOP OF THINGS. IT'S HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OF JOURNALISM AS OPPOSED TO WRITE A GOOD STORY.

HOST: A COUPLE MINUTES REMAIN. FROM A PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL -- INTENSELY PERSONAL, THIS IS A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, YOU OCCUPIED THAT UNIQUE HILL, THAT IS PARENTS WATCHING A PARENT DIE. YOUR DAUGHTER, CYSTIC FIBROSIS. AND YOU HAVE GIVEN OF YOURSELF SO MUCH TIME OVER THE LAST 20, 30 YEARS TO TRY AND BRING IT INTO THAT STAGE.

THAT'S A PART OF ME THAT'S MUCH MORE THAN ANYTHING I EVER WROTE ABOUT SPORTS. AS CHAIRMAN OF THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION FOR 15, 16 YEARS. SO PLEASED TO SEE WHAT WE'VE DONE.

HOST: NOW YOU'RE CHAIRMAN EMERITUS.

YES, BUT EMERITUS, THEY GIVE YOU THE PFEIFF AND SLIPER. THE AMAZING THING, WHEN MY DAUGHTER DIED AT THE AGE OF 8 IN 1980, ALICE WAS 8 YEARS OLD. THAT WAS ABOUT THE AGE MOST PEOPLE WERE SUPPOSED TO LIVE. NOW CYSTIC FIBROSIS PEOPLE, THE AVERAGE AGE IS 40S AND WE'RE IN A POSITION TO -- YOU WANT TO ERADICATE THE DISEASE SO PEOPLE CAN LIVE FULL LIVES. IF THERE IS ANYTHING I'VE DONE --

HOST: IT IS QUITE AN INCREASE IN ATTENTION, BRING ABOUT RESEARCH FUNDS.

I REMEMBER SITTING ON THE BOARD WHEN WE WERE DOWN A COUPLE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. NOT A LOT OF MONEY FOR A DISEASE. THE BOOK I WROTE ABOUT MY DAUGHTER, THE LIFE OF A CHILD, WAS SUBSEQUENTLY MADE INTO A TV MOVIE. THAT WAS AT A TIME WHEN THERE WERE ONLY THREE NETWORKS SO IT WAS WATCHED BY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT HER LIFE, BUT IT'S SO MUCH ATTENTION, TOO, JUST BECAUSE WE WERE FACING A DISEASE. I KNEW I WAS DOING GOOD. I KNEW THAT -- IT WAS TOUGH TO WRITE. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY IT WAS GOING TO HELP A LOT OF PEOPLE. ITS WAS THE BEST THING I DID.

HOST: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR COMING. AND ONCE AGAIN, THANKS TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE FOR ALLOWING US TO USE THE STUDIO, ITS LIBRARY. SEE YOU NEXT TIME. ♪ ♪

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