Max Howell passed away on Monday.
His career pioneered many of the practices that we now take for granted in the study of physical education, sport and the practice of coaching.
He attended the Sydney Teachers’ College in 1945 to study for a Diploma of Physical Education. Whilst there he joined Randwick Rugby Club. Within two years he ‘was selected as a Wallaby as part of the team that toured New Zealand. Making his debut in the Dunedin Test against the All Blacks from the bench, Max became the first player in history to be substituted in the second half of a Test’. Max was a member of the Wallabies team that toured the British Isles, France and North America. He retired from international rugby at the age of 20 ‘to concentrate on his studies’.
Max left Australia in 1950 to study at the University of California at Berkeley. His MA in Physical Education thesis was Speed of movement and reaction related to emotional tension (1952). His Ed.D. thesis in educational psychology and physical education was titled Facilitation of motor learning by knowledge of performance analysis results (1954). A Hall of Fame citation for Max notes that he graduated with ‘the first doctorate degree in Physical Education ever awarded an Australian’. There is a 1956 paper in the Research Quarterly that describes Max’s PhD work with force-time graphs of sprint starts.
He moved to the University of British Columbia in 1954 as a teacher and a coach (of swimming and rugby).
He promoted research in physical education and created Canada’s first Masters program in Physical Education. In 1961 he moved to the University of Alberta where he developed Canada’s first Phys Ed Doctoral program. Subsequently he was a Dean at San Diego State University and Director of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. Max returned to Australia in 1981 to become Foundation Chair and first Professor of Human Movement Studies at the University of Queensland. He retired in 1992 and was appointed Emeritus Professor in 1993.
Max was the recipient of of a Centennial Medal for services to sport studies and sport history in Canada. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 2003 for his services to sport studies and sport history.