With the passing of Mike Collins in July this year the field of sport and leisure studies has lost one of its founding members and one of its most prolific contributors. Mike was able to shape the field in its early days and continued to champion, challenge and support research approaches and policies, particularly those aimed at using sport for social goals, throughout his career. He was also a prominent member of EASM and editor of the European Journal of Sports Management, the forerunner of ESMQ from 1999 to 2001.
Mike undertook a B.Litt, and MA (Urban Geography) at Oxford University (1964 and 1970), and a Diploma of Town Planning at the Central London Polytechnic in 1970. From 1966 to 1970 he was a town planner in the London Borough of Haringey, and from 1970 to 1972 he worked at the LSE as Senior Research Officer for the Greater London Group.
However it was in 1972 that his long association with sport and leisure policy research began. He joined the Sports Council in that year as Head of Research and in his 17 years at the Council supervised more than 500 research projects. He was also primary author of two major strategic documents, Sport In The Community: The Next 10 Years (1982) and Into The 90s (1989) which reflected and contributed to major developments in national sports policy.
In 1989 Mike was recruited by Loughborough University and headed up the Sports Council funded Institute of Sport and Recreation Planning and Management from 1989 to 1994. He subsequently took on a teaching role as Senior Lecturer in Recreation Management from 1995 to 2004, guiding students at undergraduate, masters and PhD levels.
Following his retirement from Loughborough in 2004, Mike was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire from 2005 to 2007 and subsequently was Professor of Sport Development in the University’s, Centre for Sport and Spirituality from then until his death earlier this year.
To say that Mike was prolific is clearly an understatement. He published widely,. Notable books included Sport And Social Exclusion with Tess Kay (Routledge 2003), and Examining Sport For Development (coeditor and co-author of seven chapters), and Mike was also principal author of Sport and social exclusion report to Policy and Action Team 10 (DCMS). Mike’s ability to work on several projects at once was legendary but had a distinctive impact on his office which would invariably have piles of material scattered across every surface so that desks, carpets and chairs were invisible. On one occasion a new member of staff called in to report to University Security that Mike’s office had obviously been trashed by an intruder only to be informed that this was its normal state, and that nothing should be moved by way of tidying up since Mike knew exactly where to find any given document in what appeared to the outsider to be a chaos of papers.
One of Mike’s most endearing features was his willingness to help anybody. He was always willing to put his encyclopaedic knowledge of sources, and his breadth and depth of policy experience, at the service of others, from colleagues, and visitors, to PhD and undergraduate students. His enthusiasm and his fountain of ideas seemed to be inexhaustible and he always seemed to have the time to go the extra mile to ensure that questions were answered to the best of his ability.
Mike was a family man, married to Sue in 1966, with four children, Katie, Matthew, Dan and Hannah. He was also a Methodist preacher, and he and Sue put much effort into supporting the Christian community in Shepshed where they lived. Mike was as generous in his community contributions as he was in his private and public life and he will be much missed by his colleagues and friends.
Ian Henry & Barrie Houlihan