Olympic scholar to give the Lucas Memorial Lecture

February 28, 2013

Olympic scholar Robert K. Barney will give the "John Apostal Lucas Memorial Lecture" titled "Based on the Evidence: Sacred Fire in the Olympic Games and Revision of History," from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 22, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library on the University Park campus of Penn State.

Barney, a prominent and renowned Olympic historian, who recently completed a “Historiography of America in the Olympic Games,” was an academic colleague of Lucas for more than 40 years. In his lecture honoring Lucas's memory and Olympic legacy, Barney will present a theme that was dear to John’s heart -- the genesis of the Olympic Games’ supreme ceremonial rite.

Robert Knight Barney was born in Winthrop, Mass., and though he remains an American citizen, he has lived and worked in Canada at Western University for 40 years, becoming a professor in 1982 and professor emeritus in 1996. Educated at the University of New Mexico (UNM), his doctoraate was achieved in 1968. A three-sport intercollegiate athlete at UNM (football, baseball, swimming), he subsequently was a collegiate swimming coach, a director of athletics, and a professor of kinesiology specializing in the teaching and research/writing of sport history. He has published some 260 pieces on sport history, almost 150 of them in the field of Olympic history. His best-known works are the seminal study of Olympic commercialism, the 2003 award-winning book, "Selling the Five Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Rise of Olympic Commercialism," and "Tarnished Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City Bid Scandal," with Stephen Wenn and Scott Martyn. He served as president of the North American Society for Sport History (1990-1992), as executive council member of the International Society of Olympic History (1998-2008), and director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the Western University, an institution at which he continues to be active.

Barney is founder and long-time editor/co-editor of "Olympika:  The International Journal of Olympic Studies," the first-ever scholarly journal dedicated to the study of broad themes related to Olympic socio-cultural issues. He is recipient of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Order (1998), the North American Society for Sport History’s Recognition Award for Exceptional Lifetime Contributions to the Study of Sport History (2003) and the Pierre de Coubertin Award given by the International Society of Olympic Historians for Lifetime Contributions to Historical Scholarship on the Modern Olympic Movement (2010).  

The lecture's namesake John Apostal Lucas was one of the world’s foremost Olympic historians and longtime Penn State professor. He died on Nov. 9, 2012.    

Born in Boston, Mass., on Dec. 24, 1927, Lucas attended Boston University as an undergraduate student before earning his master’s degree at the University of Southern California and a doctorate from University of Maryland in 1962. He began documenting and researching the modern Olympic Games in 1952 and attended every summer Olympic Games held between 1960 and 2008. An avid runner, Lucas had the opportunity to run on every Olympic track during those years, with his final Olympic “lap” coming at the Athens Olympics in 2004. In 1992, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) honored him with the title of “Official IOC Lecturer” and in 1996 IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch bestowed on him the Olympic Order Medal.

Lucas coached Nittany Lion track and field and cross-country from 1962 to 1968. Lucas officially retired from Penn State as professor emeritus of kinesiology in 1996. He taught the History, Philosophy and Politics of the Modern Olympic Games course for more than thirty years including ten plus after retirement. Lucas was the author of four books, including "The Future of the Olympics" (1992) and "The Modern Olympic Games" (1980) as well as more than 200 articles on the subject of the Olympics.

The John Lucas’ Olympic book and research papers collections are held within the Special Collections Library. For more information about the collection, contact University Archivist Jackie R. Esposito at jxe2@psu.edu.

For more information about the lecture or if you have questions about physical access or special accommodations needed, please contact Jackie Esposito at 814-863-3791.

Last Updated January 09, 2015