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The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism$
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Matthew P Llewellyn and John Gleaves

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040351

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040351.001.0001

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The Anatomy of Olympic Amateurism

The Anatomy of Olympic Amateurism

(p.9) 1 The Anatomy of Olympic Amateurism
The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism

Matthew P. Llewellyn

John Gleaves

University of Illinois Press

This chapter traces the origins and development of amateurism, from the plans to revive the Olympic Games of classical Greek antiquity in 1894 through its global diffusion. Though often misattributed to ancient Greece, amateurism was a distinctly modern invention born in Great Britain during the latter half of the nineteenth century. A holistic and loosely articulated set of ideas, beliefs, and practices, amateurism is commonly defined as being “about doing things for the love of them, doing them without reward or material gain or doing them unprofessionally.” The amateur played the game for the game's sake, disavowed gambling and professionalism, and competed in a composed, dignified manner. From its institutional seedbed in Victorian Britain, amateurism traveled the sporting globe, from the cosmopolitan Dominion cities of Cape Town, Sydney, and Toronto to distant British imperial outposts in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Like the spread of modern sports and games, the British diffused amateurism via a series of interrelated mechanisms: notably, the public schools, the economic and industrial system, the imperial British army, the evangelical and muscular Christianity movements, and a vast literary network of sporting journals, male adventure stories, and imperial tracts.

Keywords:   Olympic Games, amateurism, Olympic athletes, Victorian Britain, public schools, British Army, Christianity, sporting journals, male adventure stories

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