amateur

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amateur,

in sports, one who engages in athletic competition without material recompense. Upper-class Englishmen in the 19th cent. used the concept to help define their social status, first applying the term to sportsmen who did not need to work with their hands as livelihood, later using it to describe anyone who competed without pay. By the beginning of the 20th cent., leaders of two major sports movements, the American intercollegiate athletic system and the Olympic Games (revived in 1896), had adopted amateurism, claiming it developed competitors who were morally superior to professionals. In a famous incident, Olympic officials stripped decathlete Jim ThorpeThorpe, Jim
(James Francis Thorpe), 1888–1953, American athlete, b. near Prague, Okla. Thorpe was probably the greatest all-round male athlete the United States has ever produced. His mother, a Sac, named him Bright Path.
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 of two gold medals won at the 1912 Games because he had once accepted money to play baseball. Although almost all athletic structures not organized as professional ventures came to embrace amateurism as policy, athletes often subverted the code, forcing officials to constantly revise standards. From the outset, colleges allowed payment of educational expenses to athletes. In 1974, after Communist bloc nations had been subsidizing their athletes for two decades, the Olympics ceded to athletes the right to compensation for loss of salary during training, and shortly thereafter permitted professionals in sports whose governing bodies did not object. By the 1960s top-ranked golf and tennis amateurs had forced major tournaments to allow professional entrants. As evidenced by the return of Thorpe's medals in 1982, amateurism by the 1990s was a concept of diminished importance and one more of technical than moral distinction. The major organizations involved in the supervision of amateur athletics in the United States are the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), responsible for college and university sports, and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), responsible for most other areas of amateur competition.

Bibliography

See J. Lucas, The Modern Olympic Games (1980).

References in classic literature ?
But the point of Amateur Night, and it is well to note it, is that these amateurs are not really amateurs.
Move about among the amateurs waiting their turn, pump them, study them, photograph them in your brain.
We came foaming down abreast of the skiff, so close that we could hear above the wind the voices of Big Alec and his mate as they shouted at us with all the scorn that professional watermen feel for amateurs, especially when amateurs are making fools of themselves.
Big Alec's black head and swarthy face popped up within arm's reach; and all unsuspecting and very angry with what he took to be the clumsiness of amateur sailors, he was hauled aboard.
Certain of the best wines (which all had a great character among amateurs in the neighbourhood) had been purchased for his master, who knew them very well, by the butler of our friend John Osborne, Esquire, of Russell Square.
Two to one in half-crowns on the big un," says Rattle, one of the amateurs, a tall fellow, in thunder-and-lightning waistcoat, and puffy, good-natured face.
He was accompanied by Captain Stewart, the amateur traveller; who had not yet sated his appetite for the adventurous life of the wilderness.
No: the insatiable amateur had his own purpose to gain, and was not exhausted yet.
But your boss comes in every day as perky and set up as an amateur prestidigitator doing the egg trick.
She had been hearing some fine music sung by a fine bass voice,--but then it was sung in a provincial, amateur fashion, such as would have left a critical ear much to desire.
There is, it must be confessed, something very sad about the early efforts of an amateur in bagpipes.
The influences which would no doubt have determined his style in any case were early brought to a focus in the advice given him by an amateur poet and critic, William Walsh.