Historically, when people used to watch the Olympics, they thought the athletes were playing for the sake of their country’s reputation. The audience may have been naïve back then, and believed what was apparent- that they are unpaid athletes. This may have been largely the case until the modern Olympics in 1986, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gradually introduced professional athletes in high profile sports like tennis, basketball and ice hockey. They created a line of difference between amateur and professional athletes, and the professional athletes were being paid.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AMATEURISM AND OLYMPICS
If one pays heed upon the link between the two it can be derived that the relationship does not extend as far back as it is considered. This relationship is the product of Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat, who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the modern Olympic Games. It developed because of the social, economic, and political reasons.
The concept of amateurism in the late 19th century was a sign of the revival of the Olympics but was also influenced by the class structure. When Coubertin learned that his class could not compete with the plebeians, he created the concept of amateurism. Being an amateur required to have spare time, which was exclusive to upper class only. Those who were wealthy could only compete as gentlemen to avoid hostility rather than with the intention to gain financial benefits.
The games of Greece can be related to this aspect as athletes in those days were richly rewarded for their success in competitions by being given exclusions for the payment of taxes or were trained for next round of games. The winners were officially bestowed prestige and high status in the country by the government.
Amateur athletes have a very noble image and are highlighted by their sacrifices and dedications towards sports. Amateur athletes play for the love of the game and have strong moral and ethical components in themselves. Whereas, a professional is recognized by the paychecks, skills, and materialism as they are paid to perform and have high expectations from the coach and fans. An amateur athlete is motivated by intrinsic attitudes such as good health, self-confidence and compatibility of teammates rather than extrinsic ones like money or fame.
Typically, professional athletes cannot use their professional abilities in any other field, unlike an amateur athlete, who could benefit from their capabilities.
The concept of amateurism is to preserve those features of sports which stand for privilege. The upper class used to play by promoting a means of income in terms of capital; they were playing for money rather for the prestige and reputation of their country. This was highly an unprofessional attitude.
However, when amateurism was spread among every class of people, the upper class created a line of disparity. Lower class amateurs were separated from the competitions by the upper class as their level of game required strength that is more physical. Lower class in those days had a stigma of drinking, gambling and sleazy behavior.
Amateurism also augmented the gender and racial discrimination. Women and black people were excluded from the competitions.
Amateurism in Olympics has a pursuit of excellence to live well intrinsically. People who participate in sports are not just doing it for the sake of money but for the sheer enjoyment to exercise their morals and attitudes towards positive behavior. These athletes are often present for charity functions or for fun runs on television. They do not undermine the integrity of the games but rather buck up every individual to play their parts in their lives with great zeal.