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The word ‘amateur’ is French in origin and derives from the Latin word for ‘love’ – the same root that gave us the English word ‘amorousrsquo;. It was therefore used originally to describe someone who pursued an activity solely for the love of it. Amateurism is generally seen as an English phenomenon (Allison, 2001: 10).

Few people today would understand the word ‘amateurism’ as primarily denoting love. In the modern world it usually signifies incompetence. Which of us would wish to be identified as one of ‘a bunch of amateurs’? Chances are we would far rather be recognised as ‘professional’ in our approach, professional being for much of the history of modern sport the widely despised antonym of ‘amateurrsquo;. These days, in sport as in ...

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