J.O. Spengler, J.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management

  • Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance, Indiana University (1999)
  • J.D. in Law, University of Toledo (1992)
  • M.A. in Recreation Administration, Clemson University (1989)
  • B.S. in Exercise Science, Wake Forest University (1984)

Curriculum Vitae

Office: FLG 190D
Address: P.O. Box 118208, Gainesville, FL 32611-8208
Contact: (352) 294-1671
Email: spengler@hhp.ufl.edu
Grantee Profile: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research


John O. Spengler, JD, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Sport Management Program at the University of Florida.  The current focus of Spengler’s research is on legal and policy issues around sport and recreation safety, obesity prevention and physical activity.  Spengler’s research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study policies relevant to community access to sport and recreation facilities in lower-income communities and communities of color.

As an American Heart Association Volunteer, his research has informed policy and advocacy efforts at the state and national level to improve community health through physical activity.  He has disseminated the results of his research in over fifty journal articles, commissioned research briefs and papers, and through numerous webinars, professional conferences and meetings.

Spengler is the Director of the UF Sport Policy and Research Collaborative (SPARC), the official research partner of the Aspen Institute’s “Project Play.”  He also serves on the advisory board of “Project Play”, an Aspen Institute project designed to improve the health of children and communities through sport. Spengler is also the President of the Sport and Recreation Law Association and Associate Editor of the Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport.

In addition to research and outreach activities, Spengler is an enthusiastic teacher, having received two University of Florida teaching awards, as well as national teaching recognition.  He is the author of two book chapters and four college textbooks (three as first author) that are used in classrooms across the country.

Honors include selection as a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor in recognition of outstanding research and scholarly achievements, receiving the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fame for Fitness Award  in recognition of his work on childhood obesity prevention, an invitation from the American Heart Association to serve on a policy statement writing group, receipt of the AAPAR Safety and Risk Management Distinguished Scholar Award, and selection as an AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow, and Sport and Recreation Law Association Research Fellow.

Research Interests

  • Active living policy and obesity prevention
  • Physical activity and the built environment
  • Risk management policy and implementation in sport and recreation


Dr. Spengler teaches a variety of classes, with a focus on law, policy and risk management in sport, physical activity and recreation.