The word “amateur” is derived from the same source as the word “amorous”. It suggests that an amateur in any given field participates for the love of their chosen passion – they play sport, or music, or create works of art, or write for the joy it brings to themselves and others rather than for financial gain.
Money is for the professionals – those who take part not only because they love what they do, but because they are successful enough to earn money doing what they enjoy.
The shock horror that I experienced when I became acquainted with a couple of very high level international rugby union players who were coaching a GPS rugby team for money – and I was assured that they weren’t the only ones – has long since disappeared with reality creeping into my psyche.
If you can remember as far back as 1953 you may also remember it as the year that Frank Sedgman turned professional. Sedgman had been a successful amateur tennis player since 1945, and following Australia’s win in the Davis Cup announced his move from the amateur ranks of the sport. An outraged public demanded that Sedgman should return the generous wedding present his admirers had gifted him when he married in January 1952.
Remember those Olympians who flaunted their Adidas running spikes on the victory podium at Mexico City in 1968 and were regarded as traitors to the cause of amateurism? It was at these games that the push to allow professional athletes to compete in the Olympics really gained momentum.