Thus, excepting the bed of ivy he slept in at Princeton, Deford's home was in the bush. But this was good, for in the bush were stories worth telling. When he started in the sportswriting business, if it wasn't baseball, boxing, or horse racing, with a little golf, track and field, and the occasional Olympic blip, "all else was, well…bush," everything that didn't meet the standards of "the approved athletic ecclesiastical calendar/atlas. There were bush towns, of course, and bush events and bush promoters and bush leagues. If any American sportswriter had ever bothered to go to the World Cup, it would surely have been labeled as bush. So too the countries where it was played. Bush countries."
Deford country, then. "I looked for what was real and unusual, athletic quaint": soapbox derbies, thrill-car rodeos, big-truck racing, alligator wrestling, waterskiing, cheerleading contests. He wrote about pro basketball when it was bush yet boasted Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, and Deford's early find, Bill Bradley. He covered hockey and introduced us to Bobby Orr, "the Canadian Christ ice child," who lifted the bush Bruins to higher ground when "Boston was fed up with the Sawx…They were losahs. The Patriots were bush…and the Celtics had too many black guys." Ah, Boston...ah well. Tennis is one of Deford's favorite (then bush) sports, and his friendship with Arthur Ashe allowed him to elementally experience Ashe's breaking the color line in apartheid-era South Africa.