Mike Collins: 1943-2014

Mike studied at Oxford University, where he obtained a B.Litt. (1964) and MA (Urban Geography) (1970). From 1966 to 1970 he was a town planner for the London Borough of Haringey, and he obtained a Diploma in Town Planning at the Central London Polytechnic in 1970. In that same year he moved to work at the London School of Economics as a Senior Research Officer in the London Group, specialising in transport planning.

In 1972 he joined The Sports Council as Head of Research, a post he was to hold for 17 years. Most of the other staff he was to find there came from a physical education background, and it is hard to imagine anyone less sporty, though he was a dab hand on the snooker table. Slightly overweight, thinning on top, thick glasses (often broken or held together with tape), and an office piled with papers in every direction presented a caricature of the ‘absent minded professor’.

But he had a brain second to none, from which the creativity and the ideas flowed faster than those around him could cope. During his time at the Council he supervised more than 500 research projects, and he brought his planning background to bear on the Council’s endeavours, most notably with the authorship of the national strategy, ‘Sport in the Community: the next Ten Years’ (1982) and overseeing the development of the next strategy, ‘Into the 90s’ (1989).

A review of research on indoor sports centres is hyper-linked in Chapter 4 (Indoor Sports Centres – Research on their Use, Users, and Non-Users, and its Impact on Policy, Provision and Management). This review contains some 80 references, of which about half have Mike Collins as commissioner, supervisor or author.

But Mike’s interests were wide and he had an equally extensive portfolio of work in other areas such as countryside recreation, water recreation, other sports, and leisure studies more generally. He was a passionate believer in everything he did of ‘Sport for All’. He cultivated networks among academics (being ably supported by, inter alia, Professor Brian Rodgers and Professor Allan Patmore at different times as Sports Council members), was a founder member of the Leisure Studies Association, and a Sports Council representative on the Council of Europe. In his personal life Mike was also an enthusiastic contributor to the Methodist Church community wherever he was living.

In 1989 Mike left The Sports Council to lead the Institute of Sport and Recreation Planning and Management at Loughborough University, a Sports Council funded initiative which he himself had helped to establish. From 1995 to 2004 he was a Senior Lecturer in Recreation Management.

After leaving Loughborough in 2004 Mike became a Visiting Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire from 2005 to 2007, and then Professor of Sport Development in the University’s Centre for Sport and Spirituality until his death in 2014.

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