Doug Stark

 

Since graduating from the Archives Program in 1996, my career path has taken me to sports museums. It was not something I planned but it has been an enjoyable ride. Over the past 12 years, I have worked at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, the United States Golf Association Museum in Far Hills, NJ, and now at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI. At Basketball and Golf, I was part of capital projects that have re-conceptualized and rebuilt two new sports museums.

Presently, I am the Museum Director at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. As the Museum Director, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the Museum and Information Research Center. I am also directing the museum’s pursuit of accreditation by the American Association of Museums. My experience has included collections care, content and exhibit development, strategic planning, branding and messaging, product development, and program and outreach. I have focused on making the history of sports more engaging, relevant, and accessible to a wider, more diverse audience.

One of the main ways I have tried to make sports more engaging has been telling the story of sports through people and athletes.  This often requires research and the one constant from my training in the Archives Program has been the importance of original research and working with primary documents and sources. Oral histories, magazines, interviews, photos, scrapbooks, and articles have all been key sources in discovering the history of individuals and how their lives provides a lens to which we can better understand American history.

This approach has culminated this month with the publication of my first book The SPHAS: The Life and Times of Basketball’s Greatest Jewish Team.Founded in 1918, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association’s basketball team, known as the SPHAS, was a top squad in the American Basketball League—capturing seven championships in thirteen seasons—until it disbanded in 1959. The book explores the significance of basketball to the Jewish community during the early years of the game, when Jewish players dominated the sport and a distinct American Jewish identity was on the rise. At a time when basketball teams were split along ethnic lines, the SPHAS represented the Philadelphia Jewish community. This book is an inspiring and heartfelt tale of the team on and off the court.

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