Historical view of amateur and professional

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The public school ethos

  • Qualities such as leadership, loyalty, courage, discipline and commitment were encouraged –> developed through sport, especially team games
  • Athleticism developed –> emphasis on goodness, manliness, restraint and discipline
  • Public school sportsmen went to universities and many returned to schools to teach
  • Knowing the benefit of organised competitive sport, they encouraged more to join them to form clubs
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Professional or amateur?

Sport used as a means of social control –> maintaining a clear distinction between amateur and professional

  • Gentleman amateur – a gentleman of the upper and middle classes who played sport with strict adherence to the rules and strict ethical code concerning the manner in which sport should be played
  • Professionals were paid to play – mostly from working classes
  • Men were employed to play sport due to talent

Distinction between amateur/professional was enforced through strict rules about membership -> the middle classes excluded working classes

  • Professional performers in 19th century had limited earning potential –> but still better than wages of working classes
  • Due to a rise in media interest in sport, most sports are able to support professional performers
  • Increase in media coverage also led to increased status of professional performers – become role models and media personalities
  • In today’s society – young people aspire to emulate their sporting heroes
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Olympism

Prior to 1970s:

  • Intention of Olympics was to promote friendship, international harmony and understanding
  • The Olympics existed within a Victorian ethos: fair play and sportsmanship
  • Performers not only played within the rules but also within the etiquette of sport
  • Performers were amateurs – no financial rewards for winning
  • The symbols of the Olympics are designed to reinforce this – doves of peace, Olympics rings to show harmony, and athlete’s Olympic oath – these all identify the values of Olympism
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Olympism

Recent Olympic games:

  • Vast increase in money from TV rights -> games are highly telegenic and attract large viewing audiences
  • Different countries need to achieve sporting success in order to sustain interest and finance the games
  • Host city has potential for substantial revenue through tourism, employment, prestige and facilities
  • Media coverage has increased earning potential of athletes -> many games now involve professionals
  • The Olympics have become hugely nationalistic –> countries spend millions on making competitors reach the highest level of physical prowess – Olympics are now elitist
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The Olympic Ideal

Original establishment of Olympics (1896)

  • Underlying philosophy -> the games would bring nations together, allowing young people to compete across national boundaries
  • Participation was regarded as far more important than winning

More recent Olympics

  • Amateur ethos has eroded over time as well as Olympic ideal of competing fairly i.e. respect for others
  • Amount of financial support available for prep of performers varies considerably among different countries
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Sporting values of Olympic games

  • Sportsmanship/respect for opponent/fairplay
  • Athleticism/physical endeavour with moral integrity
  • Follow unwritten rules of the sport/etiquette/code of conduct
  • Taking part is more important rather than winning/team loyalty as well as individual success
  • No monetary prizes/winning for the glory/amateurism
  • Self-discipline/maximum effort/high commitment level
  • Natural ability – no drugs 
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