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Associate Professor Rob Hess

BA Hons (Monash), DipEd (LaTrobe) MA (Alberta), PhD (VicMelb)

Associate Professor, College of Sport & Exercise Science

Associate Professor Rob Hess is one of Australia's foremost sport historians. His PhD was the first ever doctoral study of the history of Australian Rules football, and he has published widely on the history of the code, including an award-winning co-authored book, A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, published by Penguin/Viking in 2008.

He also has an international reputation for sport history scholarship, holding the position of Academic Editor with the discipline's foremost journal, the International Journal of the History of Sport, published by Routledge.

Rob is also currently serving as the President of the Australian Society for Sports History, and he is the Executive Editor of the Bulletin of Sport and Culture. In addition, he is a member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club Heritage Committee, a member of Cycling Victoria's History and Heritage Committee, and he is the honorary historian for the St Bede's/Mentone Tigers Amateur Football Club.

Other research interests include the 'secret' history of female players, the 'hidden' ethnic dimensions of Australian Rules football, especially the longstanding involvement of the Chinese community in the code, and the history of disability sport in Victoria. 

Recent publications

Hess, R., 'Sphere of Sweat: Sport, History and Spirituality', Interface: A Forum for Theology in the World, vol. 11, no. 1, 2009, pp. 11-24

Hess, R., Nicholson, M., Stewart, B. and de Moore, Gregory, A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, Camberwell: Penguin/Viking, 2008

Nicholson, M. and Hess, R., 'Australia's Sporting Culture: Riding on the Back of its Footballers', in B. Stewart (ed.), The Games are Not the Same: The Political Economy of Football in Australia, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2007, pp. 23-42

Hess, R. and Nicholson, M., 'Beyond the Barassi Line: The Origins and Diffusion of Football Codes in Australia', in B. Stewart (ed.), The Games are Not the Same: The Political Economy of Football in Australia, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2007, pp. 43-70

Lange, K. M., Nicholson, M. and Hess, R., 'A New Breed Apart?: Work Practices of Australian Internet Sport Journalists', Sport in Society, vol. 10, no. 4, July 2007, pp. 662-679

Teaching responsibilities

During the course of his academic career, Associate Professor Hess has taught more than a dozen units of study to a range of different year levels. In 2011 he taught sport history-related material to almost 500 students across four units of study. He also has a special interest in teaching units with 'Learning in the Workplace and Community' components.

Postgraduate students

Associate Professor Hess has supervised to completion five PhD students, two MA students and five Honours students.

In 2010 he was the recipient of the Vice Chancellor's Citation and Peak Award for 'Excellence in Research and Research Training (Research Supervision Category)' and received a citation for 'excellence in supervisory practice, and the fostering of exceptional postgraduate outcomes at Honours, Masters and PhD level in the field of sport history'.

Current supervision

Two PhD students and one MA student.

Professional memberships

  • Australian Historical Association
  • Australian Society for Sports History
  • British Society for Sports History
  • North American Society for Sports History
  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria
  • Sports Management Association of Australia and New Zealand

Areas of expertise

  • Australian Rules Football (AFL)
  • Cycling history and heritage
  • Ethnic dimensions of football
  • Female footballers

Contact details

+61 3 9919 4062