Frank Deford

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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.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ever noticed how lopsided college football scores can get? Commentator Frank Deford traces them all back to the worst defeat ever.

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.

Much as we talk about certain financial institutions that may be too big to fail, you can be absolutely certain that the one organization in the whole wide world that truly fits that definition is FIFA, the grubby behemoth that runs soccer. Too many international sports associations are rife with corruption, but the graft exposed at FIFA beggars the imagination.

We start 2016 with a command: that the subject of Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame is over, finis, kaput forever and ever. As sure as we will no longer discuss whether Lindsey Graham or George Pataki can be president. The new commissioner has been even more adamant in dismissing Rose's pleadings, so it doesn't matter how passionately you feel — it is a dead issue. There.

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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