“Tradition dictates that we finish by 8:00,” said Dick Quinn, Director of Sports Information, and with that the 10th annual Frank Deford award ceremony was under way.
The Deford award was presented to Scott Reynolds ’99 for his work at Sports Information by Sports Illustrated writer and Reynolds’ family friend Jack McCallum. McCallum then gave an informal talk entitled “Sports Writing in a Tabloid Era” and answered questions from the audience.
Quinn began the presentation by explaining to the unacquainted just who Frank Deford is. Calling him, “the greatest living sports writer,” Quinn acknowledged Deford’s long career at Sports Illustrated.
When Quinn got the idea to present an award to one of his Sports Information assistants, he was able to get Deford to come to the Purple Valley to make the presentation. The only catch was that Deford was on a busy schedule and had to leave by 8:00.
In the nine years following, Quinn has preserved the tradition by inviting various sports writers to present the award and of course finishing the ceremony by 8:00.
This year’s ceremony was noteworthy because the presenter and the recipient of the award knew each other beforehand. When McCallum was asked to present the award, he needed no introduction to Reynolds because one of Reynolds’ best high-school friends was one of McCallum’s sons.
Quinn was actually introduced to Reynolds by McCallum. One day, the ever-persistent Quinn was lobbying his hardest to get his favorite Ephs mentioned in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section which was at the time edited by McCallum. McCallum told Quinn that he did not have room for what he wanted, but asked if he had met a kid
named Scott Reynolds. The rest as they say is history.
After handing Reynolds the award McCallum gave his brief talk.
“Each year it becomes more and more difficult to be a sports writer,” he said. “Publicists get in the way more than they help you.”
After discussing the trials and tribulations of dealing with more and more public relations people in the sports business, McCallum told stories about interviewing people such as Michael Jordan and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
McCallum covered the NBA at SI from 1985 until 1993. In that year he published a book co-written with Shaq and decided that it was time to move on. He now covers NCAA basketball and recently wrote about the Masters golf tournament.
He left the audience with one parting bit of wisdom that expressed part of his love for sports. “Anytime you expect something to happen in sports it usually never happens,” McCallum said.
As far as plans for Reynolds he said, “I don’t think I’ll go into sports writing. It will probably be graduate school for me next year, but I’m not sure.”