The conference theme is The Scale of History. The AHA welcomes paper and panel proposals on any geographical area, time period, or field of history, especially those relating to the theme of scale. Reflecting the location of the conference in Canberra, we also invite papers on the theme History and the National Cultural Collections which promote engagement between historians and professionals in the GLAMs sector (galleries, libraries, archives, museums).
Keynote speakers will include Clare Anderson (University of Leicester), Mark McKenna (University of Sydney), Mary D. Lewis (Harvard University), and Lynette Russell (Monash University), who will deliver the AHA Presidential Address.
The year 2018 is a significant anniversary year for sports historians. For example, fifty years after the Olympic Games in Mexico City, there will be opportunities to explore the Czech athletes’ reactions to the Prague Spring, local student unrest, East Germany competing as a separate nation for the first time, and Black Power protests, or to consider the relationship between politics and sport more broadly. The year is also the centenary of the end of World War I, during which sport was radically affected in Australia and worldwide, and hence further examination of sport and war is encouraged. This stream offers ample opportunities for sports historians to further contribute to historiography, both nationally and internationally.
The ASSH Stream will be convened by Bruce Coe.
Please visit the call for papers page for more details, including a list of conference streams. To submit a paper or panel for the ASSH stream, please use the AHA online abstract submission portal and nominate the ASSH stream. The deadline for abstracts is 28 February 2018.
RIP Betty Cuthbert
Australia remembers Betty Cuthbert as its Golden Girl, who won gold medals
running in the 100 and 200 metre events and the 4×100 metre relay at the 1956
Melbourne Olympics. She won another gold medal in the 400m sprint at the
1964 Tokyo Olympics. She would inspire generations of sportspeople and donate
her four gold medals to the National Sports Museum at the MCG.
By the Sydney Olympics in 2000, multiple sclerosis had confined Betty to a
wheelchair. Assisted by Raylene Boyle, she carried the Olympic torch at the
Sydney Olympic Stadium. In 2004 when the Olympic flame was on its way to
Athens, Betty Cuthbert carried it into the MCG, where she had won her three
1956 gold medals. By helping to educate the community and raise funds to foster
Olympic sport and counter multiple sclerosis, she exemplified the Olympic spirit
and raised awareness of the impacts of multiple sclerosis.
Her achievements have been honoured in many ways. She was awarded an AM
and an MBE, named as an Australian National Treasure, inducted into the NSW
Hall of Champions, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, the Athletics Australia Hall of
Fame and the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Hall of Fame. She
has had streets, a grandstand, a school gymnasium, a scholarship, a fellowship, a
Sydney ferry, a rose and a Western Australian park named in her honour and the
Melbourne Cricket Ground now hosts both the Betty Cuthbert Lounge and a
Betty Cuthbert statue.
News of Betty Cuthbert’s death prompted a pause for a minute’s silence in her
honour at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. Her funeral on 16
August will, however, be a private ceremony at Western Australia’s Mandurah
Performing Arts Centre. Betty’s family believe they acted in accordance with
Betty’s wishes in declining the State funerals offered by the premiers of both
New South Wales and Western Australia.
The ASSH Executive created three ASSH Fellows in 2017 for outstanding contributions to the scholarship of sports history in Australia:
A/Prof Rob Hess (BA(Hons), Monash; MA, Alberta; PhD, VicUni)
Rob’s scholarship has focused on the history of Australian Rules football. His books on the subject include:
• A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football (2008)
• More Than a Game: An Unauthorised History of Australian Rules Football (1998)
• Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football (2016)
A National Game won the ASSH Book Award in 2009 and Play On! won the ASSH Book Award in 2017.
The inconspicuous past is a common theme in Rob’s research. This theme is most apparent in the titles of his works that include words such as “hidden”, “secret” and “marginalised”. Rob’s theme of the inconspicuous past draws particular attention to the longstanding interest, and involvement, in Australian Rules football from women and the Chinese community. This theme also extends to Rob’s work on the history of disability sport in Victoria.
Rob holds a senior position in professional sport history as the Academic Editor of the discipline’s largest journal, The International Journal of the History of Sport.
In addition to his academic scholarship, Rob is deeply involved in community sport history: he is a member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club Heritage Committee, a member of Cycling Victoria’s History and Heritage Committee, and the honorary historian of the St Bede’s / Mentone Tigers Amateur Football Club.
Rob served as President of the Australian Society for Sports History between 2011 and 2013.
A/Prof Tara Magdalinski (BHMS (Hons), UQ; PhD, UQ)
Tara’s scholarship conjoins sociology and history and she has published across the spectrum of sports studies. Her more recent research explores the interface between performance technologies, nature and the athletic body. Tara’s goal has been to understand concerns about “unnatural” enhancement and expectations of “authenticity” in sport. Her major texts include:
• With God on their Side: Sport in the Service of Religion (2003)
• Sport, Technology and the Body: The Nature of Performance (2008)
• Study Skills for Sports Studies (2013)
Tara is committed to teaching and learning in the tertiary sector, and to equipping students with the academic skills necessary to succeed at University. She is currently the Associate Dean for Learning Innovation in the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design at Swinburne. Tara has used her knowledge of sports studies to advance teaching and learning programmes by producing a series of student-friendly teaching documents. These include:
• Research Methods for Sports Studies,
• Communication and Media in Sport,
• Core Academic Skills for Sports Studies,
• Sociology of Sport, and
• Player Development and Welfare.
Tara has served three terms as President of the Australian Society for Sports History, from 2005–2011.
A/Prof Murray Phillips (BA(Hons), UQ; PhD, UQ)
Murray’s initial research was in the social history of sport where he built a reputation for his scholarship on sport and war, sport and gender, and the social histories of golf, rugby league and rugby union. In mid-career, Murray turned his attention to historiography as a specific genre within sport history. Working in this genre, Murray has produced several award winning books. These include:
• Deconstructing Sport History: A Postmodern Analysis (2006)
• Representing the Sporting Past in Museums and Halls of Fame (2011)
• Examining Sport Histories: Power, Paradigms, and Reflexivity (2013)
• Sports History in the Digital Age (2015)
Murray has received an Australian Research Council grant to investigate the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia. As well as evidence of peer esteem, the ARC grant articulates Murray’s historiographical acumen. His research project for the grant explores communications technologies and the ways these technologies link scholars, sport practitioners, and professional online editors to document the evolving past.
Murray is the Editor of the Journal of Sport History, the official organ of the North American Society for Sport History. He served as President of the Australian Society for Sports History between 2013 and 2015.
Follow the link to a full list of ASSH Fellows and Service Awards.
The ASSH Executive is delighted to announce the winners of the ASSH Book Prizes for best edited book and best monograph.
ASSH Book Prize: Monograph
Brunette Lenkic and Rob Hess (2016) Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football. Melbourne: Echo Publishing
Play On! is a timely, engaging and well-illustrated account of the development of women’s participation in Australian Rules football across the country. Critically, the book disrupts the Victorian-centric focus that underpins so much of the history of the game; Play On! looks at women’s participation across the country. Adopting a feminist tone, the authors place women, and their highly engaging personal stories, at the centre of discussion. In so doing, Play On! highlights significant gaps in our knowledge.
The book draws on a range of primary and secondary sources to present a new interpretation of the early games and teams involving female players. Primary sources include an extensive range of newspapers and in-depth oral interviews. One member of the Awards Committee described Play On! as “the product of a relentless, and possibly comprehensive search, for evidence of any kind of engagement by women in Australian Rules football”.
Play On! will appeal to social historians of sport. The chronological approach offers a useful timeline for understanding women’s participation in Australian Rules football. Play On! contextualises shifts and changes in the game by connecting it to identity politics, the media, business, geopolitics and global events such as the world wars and the women’s liberation movement. Cultural historians of sport will appreciate the presentation style of Play On! Rather than a narrative, the authors present a montage of snapshots that, as fragments of the past, draw the reader’s attention to both what is said and what is not said, and what is shown and what is not shown. In this manner, Play On! points to a range of continuities and discontinuities over time.
Scholars working in related areas of history, sociology, cultural studies and media studies will certainly find much to interest them in Play On!
ASSH Book Prize: Edited Collection
Gary Osmond & Murray Phillips (Eds) (2015) Sport History in the Digital Age. Urbana: University of Illinois Press
This important edited collection explores the ways in which digital history is reshaping sports history. The essays are wide-ranging, high-quality, and engage issues of relevance and interest not only to historians of sport but also to scholars in many fields.
Although aimed primarily at historians of sport, one of the volume’s several outstanding features is that it will appeal much more widely. The chapter by Martin Johnes and Bob Nicholson, titled “Sport History and Digital Archives in Practice”, for example, is so clear, comprehensive and accessible that it would be an excellent introduction to digital history for scholars in any field. Many of the chapters sparkle. Anybody with doubts about the contemporary relevance of the issues addressed in this volume need only read the riveting—and disturbing—stories that open Mike Cronin’s chapter titled “Social Media as a Research Tool in Sport History”. In an absorbing essay, Holly Thorpe uses internet sources to explore fan reactions to the deaths of American surfer Andy Irons and Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke. In so doing, she illustrates the connections between mourning and memory, and digital media and sports history.
This is a serious volume; it highlights the calibre of work being undertaken in the field.
Dave Nadel & Graeme Ryan (Eds) (2015) Sport in Victoria: A History. Melbourne: Ryan Publishing.
Sport in Victoria takes an encyclopaedic approach to its subject with entries on organised and recreational sports, physical activities, organisations, stadiums, clubs, and athletes, players and administrators from the past and present.
Like other encyclopaedic volumes of sport, such as the Oxford Companion to Australian Sport, the contributions to Dave and Graeme’s collection reflect on, and synthesise, existing scholarship; and they raise new questions about sporting life in Victoria.
Sport in Victoria is well illustrated and makes good use of images, photographs and visual representations.
The judging committee is pleased to make this special award. The judges believe that Sport in Victoria is an impressive resource for public libraries, primary and secondary schools, and undergraduate students.
Follow the link for a full list of ASSH Book Awards.
The Chair of the ASSH Awards and Honours Committee is delighted to invite submissions to the following categories:
- ASSH Book Award
- ASSH Anthology Award
- ASSH Student Article Award
- ASSH Fellow
- ASSH Service Award
Submissions are due by 16 March 2017 and awards will be presented at the 2017 Conference Banquet.
For more information, and to see a list of previous recipients, please visit the ASSH Awards and Honours page.
The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Dean Widders will deliver the XVIIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: My Game, My People.
Date: Tuesday 20th September 2016
Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
Venue: “99 on York”, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Indigenous footballers have contributed more to rugby league than perhaps to any other Australian sport, and the game is a huge part of Indigenous communities. Participation in rugby league has brought many positive outcomes for Indigenous communities but there have also been some challenges along the way. Dean Widders will examine the place of rugby league in those communities through his own experience and look at the ways the game can affect a positive change.
Dean Widders grew up in Armidale in country NSW where rugby league gave the Indigenous community a chance to make progress provided a strong voice of unity to the Indigenous community. As a player he spent nine years in first grade with the Roosters, Parramatta and South Sydney before finishing his career in England with Castleford. His passion for the game and for helping the Indigenous community has combined to provide him with great opportunities to learn more about the power of his culture. This power motivated him in his career on the field and still motivates him today in his career off the field where he works as an Indigenous leader in rugby league. These days he is employed educating Indigenous players about their responsibilities as role models to our communities, but also seeks to ensure they are armed with the skills and knowledge to have a strong positive voice to create a better Australia.
Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2015 ASSH Awards.
ASSH Service Award
The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Associate Professor Rob Hess its Distinguished Service Award.
Rob was president of ASSH between 2011 and 2013. During his term, Rob updated the structure, policies and functions of the executive committee. In so doing, he greatly improved the governance and administration of the Society. As well as president, Rob has served ASSH as:
- editor of Sporting Traditions between 2003 and 2007,
- editor of the ASSH Studies Series between 2006 and 2008,
- editor of the Reviews section for Sporting Traditions since 2008, and
- an organiser of Sporting Traditions XV in Melbourne in 2005.
As co-author of A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, which won the ASSH Book Award in 2009, Rob has also helped raise the intellectual profile and credibility of sport history and ASSH in Australia.
ASSH Anthology Award, 2015
The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Examining Sport Histories, edited by Richard Pringle and Murray Phillips, and published by Fitness Information Technology, its award for best Anthology published over the preceding two years.
Examining Sport Histories comprises 12 chapters by 14 scholars with an interest in sport history. The book tackles three basic questions:
- What is sport history?
- How should practitioners do sport history? and
- What is the relationship between sport history and other academic disciplines?
In addressing these questions, the editors and contributors advocate for postmodern approaches to sport history. By postmodernism, they mean, siding with
- the subjective over the objective
- form over content, and
- representation over reality.
In short, Examining Sport Histories advances the view that historians construct history rather than discover the past. Examining Sport Histories will assist historians interrogate the practice of history, and the implications of that practice.
ASSH Book Award, 2015
The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded its premier award to three books:
- Black and Proud: The Story of an Iconic AFL Photo, by Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond, and published by
- Sport and the British World, 1900-1930: Amateurism and National Identity in Australasia and Beyond, by Erik Nielsen and published by Palgrave Macmillan.
- Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity and Cultural Heritage in Hawai‘i, California and Australia, by Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson, and published by the University of Hawai‘i Press.
In Black and Proud, Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond offer fresh perspectives on the iconic photograph of AFL footballer Nicky Winmar’s defiant stance against racism at Victoria Park, Melbourne, in April 1993. Black and Proud is an exemplary contemporary cultural history that masterfully blends content and form. Klugman and Osmond make powerful use of context; they examine the photograph of Winmar in the context of Australia’s racial past, race relations in the mid-1990s, and the game at Victoria Park in 1993. Black and Proud highlights the centrality of narrative form in history. One member of the committee described the book as a “compelling read” that creates “an element of suspense even though we know some of what happened!” Almost uniquely among historians of sport, Klugman and Osmond give Aboriginal footballers their own voices. And, they reinforce the present-centred nature of history and the importance of moral and political lessons in telling stories about the past. While Klugman and Osmond demonstrate that racism survives in Australian society and Australian football, they also point out that sport enables Aborigines, and Aboriginal communities, to achieve success in a myriad of ways.
In Sport and the British World, Erik Nielsen questions traditional interpretations of amateurism and compares the administrative aspects of the concept with its ideological dimensions. Nielson argues strongly, and persuasively, that amateur officials in Australasia pursued activities that challenged classic British conceptions of amateurism, and that amateurs in Australasia were simultaneously more diverse, and more inclusive, than those in either Britain or Canada. This diversity politicised sporting relations with the Empire. Sport and the British World is an exemplar of meticulous archival work and the comparative method. Nielsen presents a new and complex set of arguments around amateurism—a key, and fundamental, concept in the social history of sport. Nielson also makes some profound observations regarding the development of sport in Canada and Australia. He notes, for example, that the primary spectator sports in both nations are indigenous games—ice hockey in Canada and Australian Football in Australia—and that neither sport has a British heritage.
In Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers, Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson explore the social and cultural relationships between surfers and surfboards across the twentieth century as surfboards become more technical in their design, and as the production of surfboards became increasingly industrialised. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers is an exemplary model of material history. Warren and Gibson build their history on a sophisticated model of political economy that acknowledges the interdependency of politics, economy and culture. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers highlights the crafts of contextualisation and conceptualisation, makes good use of oral sources, and emphasises the importance of time and place in history, by tracing political, economic and cultural relationships across the twentieth century and around the Pacific Ocean. The depth of Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers will inspire readers well beyond the material history of the surfboard.
Follow the link for a full list of ASSH Book Awards.
Congratulations to ASSH Members for their insightful and thoughtful contributions to the national discussion on racism in AFL football in the wake of the Adam Goodes booing scandal. Click on these links to see their articles and interviews (listed in chronological order):
- Stephen Alomes, Why Hawthorn supporters boo Adam Goodes: a story of class and prejudice, ABC The Drum., 29 May 2015.
- Matthew Klugman & Gary Osmond, The AFL has failed Adam Goodes with its reluctance to condemn booing as racist, The Age, 29 July 2015.
- Braham Dabscheck, Adam Goodes: His Legacy, The Footy Almanac, 30 July 2015.
- Daryl Adair, Man up? I see a man down: booing and being Adam Goodes, The Conversation, 31 July 2015.
- Sean Gormal, Interview on Newstalk, 27 July 2015.
- Matthew Klugman, Interview on Sky News, 29 July 2015.
- Matthew Klugman, Interview on Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 29 July 2015.
- Matthew Klugman, Interview with Linda Mottram, ABC Sydney, 30 July 2015.
- Sean Gorman, Interview on Mornings with Nicole Dyer, ABC Brisbane, 30 July 2015.
- Sean Gorman, Interview on Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association Radio, 30 July 2015.
- Matthew Klugman, Interview on Mornings with Fiona Parker, ABC Melbourne, 31 July 2015.
- Gary Osmond, The uncomfortable truth we have to face as a result of the Adam Goodes booing saga, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 29 July 2015.
- Colin Tatz, quoted in Keith Parry, Booing Adam Goodes – racism is in the stitching of the AFL, The Conversation, 29 July 2015.
- Colin Tatz, quoted in David Sygall, Why booing Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes is racist, The Age, 30 July 2015.
- Matthew Klugman, quoted in Brianna Roberts, Goodes booing controversy sparks calls for conversation about racism in sport, SBS Your Language, 31 July 2015
If there are other interviews/articles that are not listed here, please send them to Tara for inclusion.
ASSH members may be interested in Neil Pollock’s Maher Cup website, which explores the social history of rugby league in the southwest slopes and northern Riverina between 1920 and 1971.
The project’s objective is to improve our understanding of the importance of the Maher Cup and rugby league football generally to the life and history of twelve towns of the NSW south west slopes and northern Riverina – Tumut, Gundagai, Cootamundra, Harden-Murrumburrah, Young, Junee, Temora, Barmedman, West Wyalong, Cowra, Grenfell and Boorowa – between 1920 and 1971.
The Maher Cup was simply different from other rugby league competitions. It permeated deep into the psyche of the citizens of these towns. The events around it were dramatic, the passions deep; it was about much more than football. Match attendances frequently exceeded the population of the home towns. Pioneering the professionalism of Rugby League, local businessman enticed internationals to play and coach, bringing quality entertainment to small places. This Cup persisted long after other challenge cups folded.
Most of the “literature” to date focuses on the drama of the Cup: the violence of players and crowds, the interminable protests, bribery, playing in snow or dust, the Cup being stolen, locked up for its safety and so on. This site wants to break from the hyperbole of the tabloids and develop a more nuanced approach, focused on answering the simple question – “why was the Maher Cup such a phenomenon?”
The site currently includes, for the first time anywhere, team lists and scorers for the 727 matches played and information about more than 3000 players. Thirty articles about the Cup have been developed so far, as well as a rapidly growing picture gallery and some contributor stories. Neil is currently developing biographies, focusing not on the big-name imports but on local stalwarts.
The site seeks to blend sports history, social history and family history to ensure that the Cup and the memories of those days in these towns is not only preserved but promoted, both to the aged who still remember and to those too young to experience the glory days of local rugby league.
The website now includes:
- A list of all 727 Maher Cup matches played with hypertext links from individual matches to any available online information about that match
- Team lists for those 727 matches – along with scorers. These lists are more than 97% complete and account for more than 99% of men who have participated in the Maher Cup
- An alphabetical list of over 3,300 players with the years they participated in the Maher Cup.
The main focus for the next few months will be on improving the quality and completeness of the above information on players and developing short biographies.
All assistance, advice, interest and information is warmly appreciated. Email Neil directly if you are interested in helping out or have information to share.
The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Ross McMullin will deliver the XVIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: Retrieving Ted Larkin (1880–1915): Outstanding footballer, acclaimed organizer, original Anzac
Date: Wednesday 16th September 2015
Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
Venue: 99 York Street Club, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Rugby league in its earliest years displayed clear potential, but success proved elusive until a capable administrator, Ted Larkin, was handed the reins in 1909 when he became the league’s first full-time secretary. Larkin is little known today, but it was under his leadership that rugby league advanced from the unpropitious plight it was in when he took over and rapidly became the most popular winter sport in Sydney and beyond.
The 2015 Tom Brock lecture will analyse the vital role of Ted Larkin. It will illuminate how he came to be in charge of rugby league; evaluate how and why he made it successful; underline how strenuously the rugby league officials tried to retain him even after he moved into another sphere with a spectacular triumph;
and outline what happened to him afterwards — a sequence of events that stirred profound emotion among those familiar with the circumstances.
Dr Ross McMullin is a historian and biographer whose main interests are Australian history, politics and sport. His book Pompey Elliott won awards for biography and literature. Another biography, Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius, was commended by the judges of the National Biography Award. He also wrote the commissioned ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill, and another political history So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government.
His latest book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation, is a multi-biography of ten exceptional Australians who died in World War I. Among them is Ted Larkin, who played a significant role in the early years of Rugby League. Farewell, Dear People has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the National Cultural Award.