skip navigation

Sinan Erdem

Born: May 9, 1927 in Manisa, Turkey

Died: July 23, 2003

Enshrined: 2008

Country: Turkey

Category: Leader

Biography (Current at time of Induction)

One of the most influential sports leaders of his time, Sinan Erdem was passionately engaged in the sport of volleyball and sports administration for most of his life, and has left a legacy of excellence in sports. As a team captain, a coach, and especially as an administrator, Erdem led by example until his passing in 2003. Through his many roles, the sport of volleyball and the sporting world in general have risen to greater heights.

Erdem’s lifetime of achievements in sports began with his being a part of the Turkish National volleyball team. He earned 12 caps while playing for the Turkish National Team during an era of less frequent international volleyball matches. He eventually became captain of the team and went on to become its coach.

However, Erdem’s greatest contributions would come well off the court beginning with his serving as Secretary General of the Turkish Volleyball Federation from 1957 to 1967. He organized the European Volleyball Championships in Istanbul in 1967, before becoming a prominent member of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball’s (FIVB) inner circle.  Erdem became a member of the FIVB’s Sports Organizing Committee in 1966, serving as the committee chairman from 1972 to 1984 while also serving on the FIVB Board of Administration from 1978 to 1986. In 1972, he served on the jury at the Olympic Games in Munich, and was the volleyball technical delegate at each of the Olympic Games from 1976 through 1984.  Erdem was appointed by FIVB President Dr. Ruben Acosta to the organization’s committee that selected the "20th Century Best" players, coaches and other individuals that had made major contributions to the sport of Volleyball.  
In 1966, Erdem began his long association with Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK), and became its Assistant General Secretary in 1982. He was elected chairman of the TMOK in 1989 and held the post continuously until his death in 2003. A strong supporter of the Olympic movement, Erdem worked tirelessly in Turkey’s unsuccessful bids to host the Olympics in the 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Closer to home, Erdem began serving as a member of the Mediterranean Games Technical Commission in 1982, becoming a member of the Games’ Executive Board in 1988. He has been widely recognized around the globe for his leadership skills and achievements. On Japan’s Culture day (Nov.3, 1992), he was presented with the Order of the Sacred Treasure on behalf of Japan’s Emperor Akihito as part of for his services to Japanese-Turkish relations. He was awarded France 's Legion d'Honneur and the Gold Medal of the French Sports Ministry, and was the recipient of the Loyalty Award of the International Olympic Committee. Despite his not having succeeded in bringing the Olympics to his native Turkey, the Turkish people have paid tribute to his efforts by naming the country’s biggest sports arena the Sinan Erdem Dome in his honor.