Obituary of Prof. Jaume Cruz (1949-2021)
“En un viejo país ineficiente,
algo así como España entre dos guerras
civiles, en un pueblo junto al mar,
poseer una casa y poca hacienda
y memoria ninguna. No leer,
no sufrir, no escribir, no pagar cuentas,
y vivir como un noble arruinado
entre las ruinas de mi inteligencia.”*
Jaime Gil de Biedma
Jaume Cruz Feliu sadly passed away in Barcelona on January 26th 2021 at the age of 71
Jaume Cruz was born in 1949 in Les Cases d’Alcanar, a small marine village south of Catalonia. Having studied in a Catholic boarding school, he moved to Barcelona to begin studies in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), obtaining his degree in the Department of Psychology. Partly motivated by his experiences as assistant teacher of children with learning difficulties, he presented his dissertation thesis in 1983 entitled: “Programmed learning: An application of experimental analysis from behaviour to education”. This initial work demonstrated the lines of thought that were reflected throughout his academic career: methodological rigour, focus on childhood and adolescence stages, and the philosophical belief that youngsters should be actively involved in their learning objectives rather than being mere receivers of knowledge. His first publications in the field of educational psychology displayed an increasing openness to innovative perspectives that were being explored in other contexts around the world.
During this period, he combined his PhD research with initial lecturing opportunities in different institutions including the National Institute of Physical Education in Barcelona (INEFC). A basketball and football player himself in his early years, his daily interactions with physical education professionals and elite athletes made him aware of the potential benefits of using psychology in sport contexts, exploiting a fundamental education gap in this field. Based on these reflections and taking advantage of an expansion process in the UAB, he obtained his professorship in 1989 creating history by becoming the first Sport Psychology Professor in Spain.
This academic promotion and his insight into the possibility of psychology affecting sport performance, coincided with Barcelona’s preparation as the Olympic venue for the Summer Games in 1992, led to multiple projects that set the guidelines of his future trajectory in research and applied psychology that earned him the universal acknowledgement as the pioneer of sport psychology in Spain. Over the next few years he was President of the Catalan Association of Sport Psychology (ACPE; 1986-1991), President of the Spanish Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPD; 1991-1995), Director of the first Master’s Program in Sport and Exercise Psychology in Spain (UAB; 1990-2017) Editor of the Revista de Psicología del Deporte-Sport Psychology Journal, first JCR indexed journal in the field accepting manuscripts in Spanish (1992-2017).
At the international level, the status of Professor Jaume Cruz increased demonstrated by his growing participation in international cooperation in postgraduate programs in Portugal and Chile, among other countries. He received invitations to European working groups in the field of Fair Play and values education in sport, mainly associated to youth sport. He also performed research projects and research leaves at renowned institutions such as the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. He participated, as the director of the UAB Master Program, in the consortium of universities that designed the European Master in Sport Psychology. He established and maintained international research collaboration with professionals in the field and had the opportunity to give lectures to the future generations of European sport psychologists attending the Intensive Course. His international activities were recognized and he was awarded the Ema Geron award for exceptional national contribution to the development of sport and exercise psychology (FEPSAC; 2011), the Association for Applied Sport Psychology Distinguished International Scholar Award (AASP; 2013) and was the Opening keynote speaker of the World Congress of Sport Psychology (ISSP; 2017).
Professor Cruz was focused on the educational approach to youth sport, motivation and commitment in sport, and grassroots’ coach behavioral interventions. This effort generated more than 40 JCR indexed publications and several educational books. This led to Jaume Cruz being a major reference figure in the area. Notwithstanding, as important as is his academic production, it is the education of several generations of young researchers and his ability to build a committed research group surrounding him which, to this day, keeps growing and reflects his wisdom and his working philosophy.
Jaume Cruz will go down in history as a kind, warm and social man. He was generous in sharing his knowledge, passionate but calm, a dedicated teacher. To us, he was a master, a respected colleague, but most of all, a friend. We can still picture him with a book in his hands, reading, with the setting sun glimpsed through the leaves of his orange trees.
*“In an old inefficient country,
something like Spain between two
civil wars, in a village by the sea,
to own a house and a small income
and no memory. Not to read,
not to suffer, not to write, not to pay bills,
and to live like a ruined noble
among the ruins of my intelligence”
Glyn C. Roberts:
I am not going to address the scholarship and impact of Jaume to the world of sport psychology, especially in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, that is included in the obituary above. I would like to talk about Jaume.
I first met Jaume in 1986, I was a keynote speaker at the first meeting of the Catalan Society of Sport Psychology and Jaume, as the first President of the society, was to introduce me to the participants. My lecture was the first of the morning. I set up my slides and waited for the attendees to arrive. At 15 minutes past the start time, I was the only person in the room. I panicked, I thought I was in the wrong room, then Jaume turned up and calmed me down and introduced me to the “Spanish way”. After about 25 minutes, several people had arrived and I started my talk. We had lunch afterward and we laughed at my naïve response. We became friends then, and the friendship only grew over time. Subsequently, I visited Barcelona and his University (UAB) many times in a professional capacity, and Jaume (and his colleagues) were always gracious hosts. But it is as a friend that I remember Jaume.
Jaume spent a sabbatical leave with us in Oslo, Norway, and I got to know Jaume and his family very well. When I visited Barcelona, Jaume and Carmen loved to walk us down from their house to Gaudí’s Parc Güell to show us the delights of the park. Jaume was a warm, gentle and humble man with a mischievous sense of humour. When Jaume passed, we lost not only a highly respected European scholar, but I lost one of my dearest friends. On one of my trips to Barcelona, he (along with Joan Riera) introduced me to a Catalan delicacy, pan con tomate. I make it at home frequently, and when I do, I will think of Jaume: I miss him already!
Glòria Balagué & Marta Guivernau
Jaume Cruz, colleague and friend, professor, lifelong mentor
Jaume was a kind soul, generous and compassionate. In him, we lost an outstanding scholar whose scientific and applied work significantly impacted the field of Sport Psychology and the life and paths of many of us. He personified true passion for sports and exercise psychology and genuine caring for his student’s growth and contribution to the area.
Jaume contributed to the addition of the first Sport Psychology class to the curriculum of the UAB and I (Marta) was lucky to be part of that class. Jaume found my passion before I even knew it. His class was full of excitement and relevant knowledge. Jaume talked about the Psychology of Sport not only with passion but with true caring for those who could benefit from it in the path of exercise and sports, not only competitive athletes but all participants. His view was all inclusive. Early on, he talked about empowerment, athlete-centered approach and the importance of process over outcome.
Regardless of his accolades, Jaume was humble and never made things about himself. In 2013, we nominated him for the AASP Distinguished International Scholar Award. A well-deserved recognition of the impact of his life work in the field of sport psychology, and a small token of gratitude for all the lives he touched. His keynote was outstanding in a packed room.
Besides his emphasis on teaching and mentoring, Jaume also worried about the institutions of Sport Psychology, helping bring logic and forethought to the arena. Measured but clear in his response I can hear his “this is not correct” when listening to an ill-conceived proposal or statement.
Just a week before his passing we had a conversation that reflects his value-centered approach to life. Jaume mentioned how they took lots of precautions to have a family gathering and enjoy seeing his most recent grandchild. He said, “Otherwise I will not die of Covid but will die of sadness”. As large as his professional side was, Jaume’s human side was much larger.
You leave a huge void to fill Jaume, but you also leave us with the knowledge and tools to continue your vision. As you would say, the future of sport psychology is good but also challenging and it’s our turn to take the baton. Thanks for the journey. We will miss you greatly.
Jaume Cruz was my friend. One of the best friends I made in my profession. For about 35 years, our contacts increased progressively as it increased my affection, respect, admiration and confidence. He was reliable and loyal, in what concerned personal and social issues, as well as professional activities. He respected people and assumed the mission of helping young students and scholars to develop themselves at personal and professional level. Jaume understood clearly that a humanist personal development is a sine qua non condition to be a good professional. Intrinsically, he was a Professor, an Educator, a Master following the integrative concept of the great classic masters. I enjoyed our discussions, specially the non-professional ones while having a meal, or just a beer, in Barcelona – where he liked taking me to some special restaurant expressing the Catalan culture –, in Lisbon – where I tried to match the level of his choices –, or somewhere in the World where we met for some professional event. I always learned from his perspectives and knowledge. Despite he was reserved about personal matters, our personal lives and our families were among the topics we talked. I keep the nice memory of a beautiful afternoon in the balcony of his apartment, having lunch with his family and enjoying a nice view over Barcelona. He and Carme, his wife, had invited my wife and myself and we were received with the wonderful music from a CD played by Madre Deus, a well-known and refined Portuguese group with great success at the time. That was an example of how he took care of small details that make meaningful differences.
Jaume expanded his influence as a sport psychologist and distinguish scholar to Portugal. Countless students and professionals in the field of sport sciences and psychology listened to his presentations in many conferences and congresses in which he participated in Portugal, as well as read his scientific articles and books recommended by Portuguese professors. However, I would like to highlight the courses he taught in two specific programs where I have been the director. The first one was the Master in Sport Psychology of the Faculty of Human Kinetics, of the University of Lisbon where Jaume was invited professor since the first one, in 1998, and during the period it lasted. Because this program was included in the European Master Program in SP, such as was the program he directed in Barcelona, both of us also received the other one’s students to supervise aiming at their final dissertations, and cooperated in this work. The Advanced Specialization in Sport Psychology of the institute INSPSIC of Porto is the other program where Jaume was so kind to accept my invitation to teach both in Lisbon and Porto where the programs have been held. He was a regular member of the teaching staff since the very first edition in 2016, only missing the last year’s courses due to his health problems.
In both programs, his workshops about children and youngster sport were among the most appreciated by the students and I am sure that his scientific, pedagogic and humanistic messages were important seeds in the students’ educational process.
Jaume was humble, fun, but profound and caring for the other ones. We exchanged messages three days before he passed away. I knew that his health was deteriorating but he did not complain. Despite his state, he finished his last message to me, asking me if my children and I were well…
In Memory of Jaume Cruz, colleague and friend
Like poetry, you reached the soul.
Like the Mediterranean, you were warm and calm.
Like a bonfire in the cold winter, you would gather your friends, your colleagues, your students.
You were generous and splendid with what you had.
You were the first Professor of Sports Psychology in Spain, but your passion for knowledge, your approachability, your way and style of being, conveyed the image of a doctoral student. However, on a grand stage, in a keynote, you were the Great Professor.
You avoided conflict but you were brave in opening paths. You advanced by offering your hand to the ones who wanted to accompany you.
We were in tune and comfortable in our exchange from the first moment. When I first approached sports psychology as an “apprentice”, you gave me your support and direction as a professor in the field. Over the course of time, we became good colleagues and very good friends. There was love and respect in our friendship. We shared interests and values….in work and in life. And all this, my dear Jaume, even if you are now gone, remains. This is our collective history; it is part of what we have been and all that we have shared, my dear friend, will always remain with me.