A Tribute to George H. Sage: Scholar, Teacher, Coach, Athlete

On February 11, 2019, physical education and kinesiology lost one of its long-time leaders.  Professor Emerita George H. Sage (University of Northern Colorado) was a renowned scholar in the area of sport sociology having authored more than 20 books and 200 scholarly articles.  He was among the first of the scholars in physical education and kinesiology that identified a disciplinary area of study and was among the early researchers in sport sociology.  His text Sociology of North American Sport, coauthored with Stan Eitzen, is a classic text and is now in its 10thedition.

George Sage, 12/27/1929 – 2/11/2019

George began his career as a high school physical education teacher and coach, first at College High School in Greeley, Colorado while working on his masters’ degree at Colorado State College (now UNC) and later at Chandler High School in Arizona. Sage next served as a graduate teaching assistant at UCLA while working on his doctorate.  During this time, he studied basketball with legendary coach John Wooden. He then taught and coached (basketball) at Pomona College while working on his doctorate at UCLA. After earning his doctorate, he accepted a position as assistant professor and head basketball coach at his alma mater. From 1963 to 1969 his teams posted a 95-36 (.725) winning percentage, a school record. After he left coaching in 1969, Sage focused on teaching and research.

During his high school years at Denver’s North High School, George was well known for his basketball and baseball prowess.  He went on to excel as a left-handed pitcher for the Colorado State College (UNC) Bears. The Bears went to three straight College World Series and in 1955, George pitched a complete-game win (2-1) over the number 1 ranked USC Trojans. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team during the same period.

More recently, George applied his expertise to golf, a game he took up later in life when he had the time to devote to it.  He and his wife Liz, wintered in Arizona for the past 25 years allowing him to play year-round. Notable were the round of 83 at the age of 84 (shot his age) and two holes-in-one.

George Sage was a member and leader in many organizations. He was a member and Research Fellow (1974) of SHAPE America, a frequent contributor, and the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar and Distinguished Achievement Awards. He was a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology (#263) and a Fellow (#29) the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE). He served as the second president of NAKHE in 1980-81 after the merging of the men’s and women’s organizations. He made multiple talks at NAKHE meetings including the Sargent Lecture (1984), the Distinguished Scholar Lecture (1991) and the Hanna Lecture (1992). George was a founding member of North American Society for Sport Sociology and received its Distinguished Service Award in 2001.

Dr. George Sage benefitted from his athletic experience and built on it to become a successful teacher and coach.  He earned a reputation for his scholarship and leadership in the area of sport sociology. While noting the benefits of athletics, George was an outspoken critic of the commercialization of sport (see Globalizing Sport).  He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues.  He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Elizabeth Amelie Sage, his two sons Larry and Mike, and their families.

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Compiled by Chuck Corbin with information obtained from multiple sources including the Denver Post, NAKHE, UNC Athletic Hall of Fame, and Sage’s CV.

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