President Obama To Honor Westport Writer Frank Deford

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Westport writer Frank Deford speaks at the Bridgeport Public Library in 2007.
Westport writer Frank Deford speaks at the Bridgeport Public Library in 2007. Photo Credit: Flickr user Bridgeport Public Library

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport writer Frank Deford, along with 11 others, will be presented with a 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony Wednesday. 

The 12 Americans will be honored for their outstanding achievements in history, literature, higher education, social documentary and cultural criticism, according to a statement from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

In addition to Deford, 74, a longtime Westport resident, the other award winners are historians Edward L. Ayers and Natalie Zemon Davis; academic leaders William G. Bowen and Jill Ker Conway; authors Joan Didion and Marilynne Robinson; political scientist Robert D. Putnam; poet Kay Ryan; editor Robert B. Silvers; actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith; and photographer Camilo José Vergara.

In a statement, the National Endowment for the Humanities said it was honoring Deford for transforming how we think about sports. "A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love," it said.  

In addition to his 50-year tenure at Sports Illustrated, Deford appears weekly on National Public Radio and as senior correspondent for "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on HBO. He has written 18 books, nine of them novels. His most recent book was "Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter," a memoir published last year. 

To read the profile of Deford by the National Endowment for the Humanities, click here.  

The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities, according to the group.

Since 1996, when the first National Humanities Medal was given, 145 individuals have been honored, inclusive of this year’s awardees. Ten organizations also received medals. A complete list of previous honorees is available online

An independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected proposals. Additional information is available online.

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