Marks and Coe: Meeting in the Commons

There was an opportunity this week to meet in the University of Canberra’s Teaching Commons. The occasion was Bruce Coe‘s upgrade seminar. Bruce has been researching the life and times of Ernest Samuel Marks and with encouragement from his supervisors (Robin McConnell and me) he is seeking to register for a PhD from his Masters by Research. To make this transition the University requires that a candidate present an upgrade seminar that is open to peer review and is assessed by two assessors.
At present the Commons works on a ‘first in, best dressed‘ system where users of the space access available space. We found a great room with a presentation screen.

Bruce’s working title for the thesis is The Indefatigable E.S. Marks and His Contribution to Australian Sport. In his introduction to the seminar, Bruce noted that:

On 2 December 1947, E.S. (Ernest Samuel) Marks died in Sydney, in his seventy-seventh year. Two days, later a 500-word obituary appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald stating that Marks was ‘a notable figure in Australian sport’. Later in the obituary, it was opined that Marks ‘probably did more for amateur sport in Australia than any other man’. Despite this acknowledgement, there is virtually no detailed account about Marks in the sport history literature.

Bruce’s submission for a Master of Sports Studies by Research degree sought to address this inexplicable gap in the literature and aimed to make a distinctive contribution to knowledge about Marks’s role in the origins of organised sport in Australia. In his proposal, Bruce noted Richard Cashman’s observation in Paradise of Sport (1995:62):

There has been too little consideration of the role of officials in shaping sporting institutions. The influence of some administrators has in some instances been immense. Whereas the playing careers of élite performers often do not extend much beyond a decade or two, some officials have dominated, and virtually run a sport for three to five decades, acquiring a substantial power base in the process. During an extended period of office an administrator can become a powerful figure in a sport, a position enhanced by political, social and media connections.

Richard Cashman identified Marks as one of a dozen influential administrators of amateur sport in Australia and documented their service to the shaping of various sporting institutions. Marks’s sixty years of giving to sport resulted in a ten-line summary. Bruce’s work seeks to extend this evidence through a painstaking study.
This is a copy of his slide presentation in his upgrade seminar ES Marks.



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