This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to present a richly contextualized global history of the role of Olympic amateurism, from Coubertin's Olympic revival in 1894 through the presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch and the advent of open professionalism during the late 1980s and 1990s. The social origins of amateurism sprung to life not from ancient Greece, but from Victorian Britain, where an upper-middle-class desire to set themselves apart from the perceived morally corrupt working classes employed amateurism as a legitimating ideology for elitist sporting preserves. The participatory and universal growth of the Olympic Games in the ensuing decades precipitated the emergence of political and commercial forces within the Olympic arena. The encroachment of governments eager to exploit the games for propaganda rewards, as well as commercial interests seeking to peddle products stamped with Olympic insignia, sullied the avowed sanctity of Olympic amateurism.
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