International Centre for Olympic Studies

John Howard Crocker Olympic Studies Lecture

John Howard CrockerConsidered one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Olympic movement, John Howard Crocker initiated the renewal of professional physical education at the University of Western Ontario; for more than half a century, he also contributed to sport in Canada and abroad. To honour his memory, the International Centre for Olympic Studies has dedicated an annual lecture in his name. Inaugurated in 1991, the John Howard Crocker Lecture has attracted renowned scholars from seven countries and three continents.

John Howard Crocker was born in 1870 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Upon graduating as an Arts student in 1897 from Dalhousie University in Halifax, he entered Dalhousie's School of Medicine. However, he discontinued his medical studies in 1899 in order to accept a Physical Director position at Toronto’s Central YMCA. After working in various YMCAs across Canada, Crocker was appointed National Director of the organization. During his long and storied affiliation with the Canadian YMCA, Crocker introduced the sport of basketball to Canada – originally at the YMCA in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1894. In 1911, Crocker accepted a YMCA position in Shanghai, later becoming Chinia’s National Physical Director. While serving in China, Crocker was appointed manager of the 1915 Chinese team which participated in the third Far Eastern Athletic Games.

In the midst of his career with the YMCA, Crocker was appointed by the 1908 Central Olympic Committee of Canada to manage the first-ever Canadian Olympic Team, and from 1912 to 1956, he was named honorary manager of Canada’s Olympic teams. From 1922 until 1947 he was secretary of the Canadian Olympic Committee and lived to see the COA become an organization independent from the Amateur Athletic Union.

In 1930, Crocker joined the University of Western Ontario as Director of Physical Education. Sixteen years later, at the age of 76, Crocker was instrumental in developing a curriculum at Western for preparing future physical education teachers. Since that time, thousands of physical education graduates from Western have taken their places as teachers and coaches in the public schools of Ontario and Canada.

In 1949 Crocker retired from active service at Western but not before he had witnessed the completion of his last great physical education project – the construction of Thames Hall. One year later, in 1950, the Western conferred its highest honour on Crocker, a Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa.

Past John Howard Crocker Lectures

1990: Bruce Kidd, Canada 2002: Ronald Renson, Belgium
1991: John MacAloon, USA 2003: David Leighton, Canada
1992: John Lucas/James Worrall, Canada/USA 2004: Jim McKay, Australia
1993: Carol Letheren, Canada 2005: Mark Dyreson, USA
1994: Richard Pound, Canada 2006: Stephen Wenn, Canada
1995: Cladimir Platonov, Ukraine 2007: David Zang, USA
1996: Fernand Landry, Canada 2008: Deane Neubauer, USA
1997: Fekrou Kidane, Switzerland 2009: Robert Barney, Canada
1998: Karel Wendl, Czech Republic 2010: Bruce Kidd, Canada
1999: Roberta Park, USA 2011: John MacAloon, USA
2000: Douglas Booth, Australia 2012: Brian Wilson, Canada
2001: John Bale, England 2014: Ian Ritchie & Rob Beamish