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 ?
A dressing room she finally found, jammed with three other amateur "ladies," who were "making up" with much noise, high-pitched voices, and squabbling over a lone mirror.
The Sunday papers 'd like to get Amateur Night done up brown in a nice little package, and the manager don't see it that way.
It was impossible for her to begin in time, and as she patiently waited, arms akimbo and ears straining for the music, the house let loose again (a favorite trick, she afterward learned, of confusing the amateur by preventing him or her from hearing the orchestra).
He even went so far as to give Edna a dressing room to herself, to the unspeakable envy of the three other amateur ladies of previous acquaintance.
Move about among the amateurs waiting their turn, pump them, study them, photograph them in your brain.
The infusion of the amateurs clogged the working of things behind the stage, crowded the passages, dressing rooms, and wings, and forced everybody into everybody else's way.
The worst was past, and for the rest of the evening she moved about among the amateurs and professionals, talking, listening, observing, finding out what it meant and taking mental notes of it all.
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.
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.
The Amateur Golf Alliance and Concession Cup have announced the dates for the third instalment of the biennial amateur team match-play competition.
This is a championship for amateurs, seniors, veterans and ladies.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (Aiba), the world's governing body in amateur boxing, has removed the A word from its name and is now known as the International Boxing Association, with the same acronym.