Amateur sports
Amateur sports are sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

s in which participants engage largely or entirely without remuneration. Sporting amateurism was a zealously guarded ideal in the 19th century, especially among the upper classes, but faced steady erosion throughout the 20th century with the continuing growth of pro sports and monetisation of amateur and collegiate sports, and is now strictly held as an ideal by fewer and fewer organisations governing sports, even as they maintain the word "amateur
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....

" in their titles.


Modern organised sport developed in the 19th century, with the United Kingdom and the United States taking the lead. Sporting culture was especially strong in private schools and universities, and the upper and middle class men who attended these institutions played as amateurs. Opportunities for working classes to participate in sport were restricted by their long six-day work weeks and Sabbatarianism. In the UK, the Factory Act of 1844 gave working men half a day off, making the opportunity to take part in sport more widely available. Working class sportsmen found it hard to play top level sport due the need to turn up to work. As professional teams developed, some clubs were willing to make "broken time" payments to players, i.e. to pay top sportsmen to take time off work, and as attendances increased, paying men to concentrate on their sport full-time became feasible. Proponents of the amateur ideal deplored the influence of money
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past,...

 and the effect it has on sports. It was claimed that it is in the interest of the professional to receive the highest amount of pay possible per unit of performance, not to perform to the highest standard possible where this does not bring additional benefit.

The middle and upper class men who dominated the sporting establishment not only had a theoretical preference for amateurism, they also had a self-interest in blocking the professionalisation of sport, which threatened to make it feasible for the working classes to compete against themselves with success. Working class sportsmen didn't see why they shouldn't be paid to play. Hence there were competing interests between those who wished sport to be open to all and those who feared that professionalism would destroy the 'Corinthian spirit'. This conflict played out over the course of more than one hundred years. Some sports dealt with it relatively easily, such as golf, which decided in the late 19th century to tolerate competition between amateurs and professionals, while others were traumatised by the dilemma, and took generations to fully come to terms with professionalism even to a result of causing a breakdown in the sport (as in the case of rugby union and rugby league in 1895).

Present day

By the early 21st century the Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 and all the major team sports accepted professional competitors. However, there are still some sports which maintain a distinction between amateur and professional status with separate competitive leagues. The most prominent of these are golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 and boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...


Problems can arise for amateur sportsmen when sponsors offer to help with an amateur's playing expenses in the hope of striking lucrative endorsement deals with them in case they become professionals at a later date. This may jeopardise their status as amateurs, and if allowed to let slide, may be seen as corruption or cheating rather than as true "shamateurism."

Where professionals are permitted, it is hard for amateurs to compete against them. Whether this is a triumph of the free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 or an example of corruption depends on the viewer's perspective. To some an amateur means an incompetent or also-ran, and to others it means an idealist. To say that the athlete should not be paid can prevent performances only possible for an athlete who is free to pursue the sport fulltime without other sources of income

The term "stamateurism" is used to describe state-sponsored athletes. It was used as a means of funding athletes in the Eastern Bloc countries.

North American collegiate athletics

All North American university sports are conducted by amateurs. Even the very most commercialized college sports, such as NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 and basketball
College basketball
College basketball most often refers to the USA basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association . Basketball in the NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III....

, do not financially compensate competitors, although coaches and trainers generally are paid. College football coaches in Texas and other states are often the highest paid state employees, with some drawing salaries of over five million US dollars annually. Athletic scholarship
Athletic scholarship
An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university awarded to an individual based predominantly on his or her ability to play in a sport...

 programs, unlike academic scholarship programs, cannot cover more than the cost of food, housing, tuition, and other university-related expenses. A school can pay an athlete to attend classes. However, a school cannot pay an athlete to play.

In order to ensure that the rules are not circumvented, stringent rules restrict gift-giving during the recruitment process as well as during and even after a collegiate athlete's career; college athletes also cannot endorse products, which some may consider a violation of free speech rights.

Some have criticised this system as exploitative; prominent university athletics programs are major commercial endeavors, and can easily rake in millions of dollars in profit during a successful season. College athletes spend a great deal of time "working" for the university, and earn nothing from it at the time; basketball and football coaches, meanwhile, earn salaries that can compare with those of professional teams' coaches.

Supporters of the system say that college athletes can always make use of the education they earn as students if their athletic career doesn't pan out, and that allowing universities to pay college athletes would rapidly lead to deterioration of the already-marginal academic focus of college athletics programs. They also point out that athletic scholarships allow many young men and women who would otherwise be unable to afford to go to college, or would not be accepted, to get a quality education. Also, most sports other than football and men's basketball do not generate significant revenue for any school (and such teams are often essentially funded by football, basketball, and donations), so it may not be possible to pay athletes in all sports. Allowing pay in some sports but not others could result in the violation of U.S. laws such as Title IX
Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a United States law, enacted on June 23, 1972, that amended Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2002 it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, in honor of its principal author Congresswoman Mink, but is most...



Through most of the 20th century the Olympics nominally only allowed amateur athletes to participate. The amateur code was strictly enforced. Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe
Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe * Gerasimo and Whiteley. pg. 28 *, accessed April 23, 2007. was an American athlete of mixed ancestry...

 was stripped of track and field
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 medals for having taken expense money for playing baseball in 1912.

Later on, however, successful Olympians from Western countries often accepted endorsement contracts from sponsors. Complex rules involving the payment of the athlete's earnings into trust funds rather than directly to the athletes themselves, were developed in an attempt to work around this issue, but the intellectual evasion involved was considered embarrassing to the Olympic movement and the key Olympic sports by some. In the same era, the nations of the Communist bloc entered teams of Olympians who were all nominally student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...

s, soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

s, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train on a full time basis. (Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, and to some extent China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 still do this; although China allows professionalism in popular team sports, it can be assumed that athletes in disciplines such as gymnastics from these countries are trained in state academies and have state-given stipends.)

After the 1972 retirement of IOC President Avery Brundage
Avery Brundage
Avery Brundage was an American amateur athlete, sports official, art collector, and philanthropist. Brundage competed in the 1912 Olympics and was the US national all-around athlete in 1914, 1916 and 1918...

, the Olympic amateurism rules were steadily relaxed and in many areas amount only to technicalities and lip service. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the Amateur Sports Act of 1978
Amateur Sports Act of 1978
The Amateur Sports Act of 1978, , establishes a United States Olympic Committee and provides for national governing bodies for each Olympic sport...

 prohibits national governing bodies from having more stringent standards of amateur status than required by international governing bodies of respective sports.

Olympic regulations regarding amateur status of athletes were eventually abandoned in the 1990s with the exception of boxing and wrestling, where the rules for participation still require amateur status rather than professional status for the safety of the participants.


United States

See: Amateur baseball in the United States
Amateur baseball in the United States
Amateur baseball is a form of baseball in which the players either are not paid for playing, or receive only a modest stipend or employment arranged by the team's boosters...


English first-class cricket
First-class cricket
First-class cricket is a class of cricket that consists of matches of three or more days' scheduled duration, that are between two sides of eleven players and are officially adjudged first-class by virtue of the standard of the competing teams...

 distinguished between amateur and professional cricketers
History of English amateur cricket
The history of English amateur cricket describes the concept and importance of amateur players in English cricket.-Co-development of amateur and professional cricket to 1800:...

 until 1963. Teams below Test cricket
Test cricket
Test cricket is the longest form of the sport of cricket. Test matches are played between national representative teams with "Test status", as determined by the International Cricket Council , with four innings played between two teams of 11 players over a period of up to a maximum five days...

 level in England were normally, except in emergencies such as injuries, captained by amateurs. Notwithstanding this, sometimes there were ways found to give high performing "amateurs", for example W.G.Grace, financial and other compensation such as employment.

On English overseas tours, some of which in the 19th century were arranged and led by professional cricketer-promoters such as James Lillywhite
James Lillywhite
James Lillywhite was a first-class and Test cricketer and umpire. He was the first ever captain of the English cricket team in a Test match, captaining 2 Tests against Australia in 1876-77, losing the first, but winning the second.Lillywhite was born in Westhampnett in Sussex, the son of a...

, Alfred Shaw
Alfred Shaw
Alfred Shaw was an eminent Victorian cricketer and rugby footballer, who bowled the first ball in Test cricket and was the first to take five wickets in a Test innings . He who organised the first British Isles rugby tour to Australasia in 1888...

 and Arthur Shrewsbury
Arthur Shrewsbury
Arthur Shrewsbury was an English cricketer, and rugby football administrator, who organised the first British Isles rugby tour to Australasia in 1888, and who was widely rated as competing with W. G...

, a more pragmatic approach generally prevailed.

In England the division was reflected in, and for a long time reinforced by, the series of Gentlemen v Players
Gentlemen v Players
The Gentlemen v Players game was a first-class cricket match that was generally played on an annual basis between one team consisting of amateurs and one of professionals . The first two games took place in 1806 but the fixture was not revived until 1819. It was more or less annual thereafter...

 matches between amateurs and professionals. Few cricketers changed their status, but there were some notable exceptions such as Wally Hammond
Wally Hammond
Walter Reginald "Wally" Hammond was an English Test cricketer who played for Gloucestershire in a career that lasted from 1920 to 1951. Beginning his career as a professional, he later became an amateur and was appointed captain of England...

 who became (or was allowed to become) an amateur in 1938 so that he could captain England.

Professionals were often expected to address amateurs, at least to their faces, as "Mister" or "Sir" whereas the amateurs often referred to professionals by their surnames. Newspaper reports often prefaced amateurs' names with "Mr" while professionals were referred to by surname, or sometimes surname and initials. At some grounds amateurs and professionals had separate dressing rooms and entered the playing arena through separate gates.

After the Second World War the division was increasingly questioned. When Len Hutton
Len Hutton
Sir Leonard "Len" Hutton was an English Test cricketer, who played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and England in the years around the Second World War as an opening batsman. He was described by Wisden Cricketer's Almanack as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket...

 was appointed as English national cricket captain in 1952 he remained a professional. In 1962 the division was removed, and all cricket players became known as "cricketers".

Other countries

In Australia the amateur-professional division was rarely noticed in the years before World Series Cricket
World Series Cricket
World Series Cricket was a break away professional cricket competition staged between 1977 and 1979 and organised by Kerry Packer for his Australian television network, Nine Network. The matches ran in opposition to established international cricket...

, as many top level players expected to receive something for their efforts on the field: before World War 1 profit-sharing of tour proceeds was common. Australian cricketers touring England were considered amateurs and given the title 'Mr" in newspaper reports.

Before the Partition of India
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

 some professionalism developed, but talented cricketers were often employed by wealthy princely or corporate patrons and thus retained a notional amateur status.

Women's cricket
Women's cricket
Women's cricket is the form of the team sport of cricket that is played by women.-History:The first recorded match of women's cricket was reported in The Reading Mercury on 26 July 1745, a match contested "between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white." The...

 is, and always has been, almost entirely amateur.

Association football

Boot money has been a phenomenon in amateur sport for centuries. The term "boot money" became popularised in the 1880s when it was not unusual for players to find half a crown (corresponding to 12½ pence after decimalisation
Decimal Day
Decimal Day was the day the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.-Old system:Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence , with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a...

) in their boots after a game.

The Football Association
The Football Association
The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

 prohibited paying players until 1885, and this is referred to as the "legalisation" of professionalism because it was an amendment of the "Laws of the Game". However, a maximum salary cap of twelve pounds a week for a player with outside employment and fifteen pounds a week for a player with no outside employment lingered until the 1960s even as transfer fees reached over a hundred thousand pounds; again, "boot money" was seen as a way of topping up pay. Today the most prominent English football clubs that are not professional are semi-professional (paying part-time players more than the old maximum for top professionals; this includes all the major existing women's clubs
Women's football (soccer)
Women's association football has been played for many decades, but was associated with charity games and physical exercise in the past before the breakthrough of organized women's association football came in the 1970s. Before the 1970s, football was basically seen as a men's game...

, in which full professionalism has not taken root yet) and the most prominent true amateur men's club is probably Queens Park F.C.. The oldest football club in Scotland, founded in 1867 and with a home ground which is one of the twenty-nine UEFA five-star stadia. They have also won the Scottish Cup more times than any club outside the Old Firm. Amateur football in both genders is now found mainly in small village and Sunday clubs and the Amateur Football Alliance
Amateur Football Alliance
The Amateur Football Alliance is a County Football Association in England. It is unusual among County FAs in not being based around a particular geographical area. It was founded in 1907, as the Amateur Football Defence Foundation, quickly changed to Amateur Football Association, when The FA...


American football

See: American football in the United States#Adult Amateur Football / Semi-Pro Football


Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

 has taken the opposite course. Around the turn of the 20th century, much of sailing was professionals paid by interested idle rich. Today, sailing, especially dinghy
A dinghy is a type of small boat, often carried or towed for use as a ship's boat by a larger vessel. It is a loanword from either Bengali or Urdu. The term can also refer to small racing yachts or recreational open sailing boats. Utility dinghies are usually rowboats or have an outboard motor,...

 sailing, is an example of a sport which is still largely populated by amateurs. For example, in the recent Team Racing Worlds, and certainly the American Team Racing Nationals, most of the sailors competing in the event were amateurs. While many competitive sailors are employed in businesses related to sailing (primarily sailmaking, naval architecture, boatbuilding and coaching), most are not compensated for their own competitions. In large keelboat racing, such as the Volvo Around the World Race and the America's Cup, this amateur spirit has given way in recent years to large corporate sponsorships and paid crews.

Figure skating

Like other Olympic sports, figure skating
Figure skating
Figure skating is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice skates. Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level , and at local, national, and international competitions...

 used to have very strict amateur status rules. Over the years, these rules were relaxed to allow competitive skaters to receive token payments for performances in exhibitions (amid persistent rumors that they were receiving more money "under the table"), then to accept money for professional activities such as endorsements provided that the payments were made to trust funds rather than to the skaters themselves.

In 1992, trust funds were abolished, and the International Skating Union
International Skating Union
The International Skating Union is the international governing body for competitive ice skating disciplines, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. It was founded in Scheveningen, Netherlands in 1892, making it one of the oldest international...

 voted both to remove most restrictions on amateurism, and to allow skaters who had previously lost their amateur status to apply for reinstatement of their eligibility. A number of skaters, including Brian Boitano
Brian Boitano
Brian Anthony Boitano is an American figure skater from Sunnyvale, California. He is the 1988 Olympic champion, the 1986 and 1988 World Champion, and the 1985-1988 U.S. National Champion. He turned professional following the 1988 season...

, Katarina Witt
Katarina Witt
Katarina Witt is a German figure skater and model. In Germany she was commonly called "Kati" in the past, but today her full name is used more often....

, Jayne Torvill
Jayne Torvill
Jayne Torvill, OBE is a British ice dancer. With Christopher Dean, she won a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics and a bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics.-Early life:...

 and Christopher Dean
Christopher Dean
Christopher Colin Dean, OBE is a famous British ice dancer who won a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics with his skating partner Jayne Torvill...

, and Ekaterina Gordeeva
Ekaterina Gordeeva
Ekaterina "Katia" Alexandrovna Gordeeva is a Russian figure skater. Together with her late partner and husband Sergei Grinkov, she was the 1988 and 1994 Olympic Champion and four-time World Champion in pair skating...

 and Sergei Grinkov
Sergei Grinkov
Sergei Mikhailovich Grinkov was a Russian pair skater. Together with partner Ekaterina Gordeeva, he was the 1988 and 1994 Olympic Champion and four-time World Champion.-Biography:...

, took advantage of the reinstatement rule to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics
1994 Winter Olympics
The 1994 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XVII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 12 to 27 February 1994 in and around Lillehammer, Norway. Lillehammer failed to win the bid for the 1992 event. Lillehammer was awarded the games in 1988, after having beat...

. However, when all of these skaters promptly returned to the pro circuit again, the ISU decided the reinstatement policy was a failure and it was discontinued in 1995.

Prize money at ISU competitions was introduced in 1995, paid by the sale of the television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 rights to those events. In addition to prize money, Olympic-eligible skaters may also earn money through appearance fees at shows and competitions, endorsements, movie and television contracts, coaching, and other "professional" activities, provided that their activities are approved by their national federations. The only activity that is strictly forbidden by the ISU is participating in unsanctioned "pro" competitions, which the ISU uses to maintain their monopoly status as the governing body in the sport.

Many people in the skating world still use "turning pro" as jargon to mean retiring from competitive skating, even though most top competitive skaters are already full-time professionals, and many skaters who retire from competition to concentrate on show skating or coaching do not actually lose their competition eligibility in the process.

Rugby football

Rugby has provided one of the most visible and lasting examples of the tension between amateurism and professionalism during the development of nationally-organised sports in Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 in the late-19th century. The split in rugby in 1895 between what became rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

 and rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 arose as a direct result of a dispute over the pretence of a strict enforcement of its amateur status - clubs in Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

 and Bradford
Bradford lies at the heart of the City of Bradford, a metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, in Northern England. It is situated in the foothills of the Pennines, west of Leeds, and northwest of Wakefield. Bradford became a municipal borough in 1847, and received its charter as a city in 1897...

 were fined after compensating players for missing work, whilst at the same time the Rugby Football Union
Rugby Football Union
The Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871 as the governing body for the sport of rugby union, and performed as the international governing body prior to the formation of the International Rugby Board in 1886...

 (RFU) was allowing other players to be paid.

Rugby football, despite its origins in the privileged English public schools
Independent school (UK)
An independent school is a school that is not financed through the taxation system by local or national government and is instead funded by private sources, predominantly in the form of tuition charges, gifts and long-term charitable endowments, and so is not subject to the conditions imposed by...

, was a popular game throughout England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 by around 1880, including in the large working-class areas of the industrial north. However, as the then-amateur sport became increasingly popular and competitive, attracting large paying crowds, teams in such areas found it difficult to attract and retain good players. This was because physically fit local men needed to both work to earn a wage - limiting the time that they could devote to unpaid sport - and to avoid injuries that might prevent them working in the future. Certain teams faced with these circumstances wanted to pay so-called 'broken time' money to their players to compensate them for missing paid work due to their playing commitments, but this contravened the amateur policy of the Rugby Football Union
Rugby Football Union
The Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871 as the governing body for the sport of rugby union, and performed as the international governing body prior to the formation of the International Rugby Board in 1886...


Following a lengthy dispute on this point during the early 1890s, representatives of more than 20 prominent northern rugby clubs met in Huddersfield
Huddersfield is a large market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England, situated halfway between Leeds and Manchester. It lies north of London, and south of Bradford, the nearest city....

 in August 1895 to form the Northern Rugby Football Union
Rugby Football League
The Rugby Football League is the governing body for professional rugby league football in England. Based at Red Hall in Leeds, it administers the England national rugby league team, the Challenge Cup, Super League and the Rugby League Championships...

 (NRFU), a breakaway administrative body which would permit payments to be made to players. The NRFU initially adopted established RFU rules for the game itself, but soon introduced a number of changes, most obviously a switch from 15 to 13 players per side. It became the Rugby Football League
Rugby Football League
The Rugby Football League is the governing body for professional rugby league football in England. Based at Red Hall in Leeds, it administers the England national rugby league team, the Challenge Cup, Super League and the Rugby League Championships...

 in 1922, by which time the key differences in the two codes were well established, with the 13-a-side variant becoming known as rugby league.

The RFU took strong action against the clubs involved in the formation of the NRFU, all of whom were deemed to have forfeited their amateur status and therefore to have left the RFU. A similar interpretation was applied to all players who played either for or against such clubs, whether or not they themselves received any compensation. Such players were effectively barred sine die from any involvement in organised rugby union. These comprehensive and enduring sanctions, combined with the very localised nature of most rugby competition, meant that most northern clubs had little practical alternative but to affiliate with the NRFU in the first few years of its existence.

Rugby football in Britain therefore became subject to a de-facto schism along regional, and to some extent class, lines, reflecting the historical origins of the split. Rugby league - in which professionalism was permitted - was predominant in northern England, particularly in industrial areas, and was viewed as a working class game. Rugby union - which remained amateur - was predominant in the rest of England, as well as in Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Rugby union also had a more affluent reputation, although there are areas - notably in South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

 and in certain English cities such as Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

 - with a strong working-class rugby union tradition.

Discrimination against rugby league players could verge on the petty - former Welsh international Fred Perrett
Fred Perrett
Fred Leonard Perrett was a Welsh international rugby union prop who played club rugby for Neath. He won five caps for Wales and in his first international game faced the touring South Africans.-Rugby career:...

 was once excluded in lists of players who died in the First World War due to his 'defection' to the league code. One Member of Parliament
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

, David Hinchliffe
David Hinchliffe
David Martin Hinchliffe was Labour Member of Parliament for Wakefield from 1987 to 2005 when he stood down and was replaced by Mary Creagh.-Early life:...

, described it as "one of the longest (and daftest) grievances in history" with anyone over the age of 18 associated with rugby league being banned forever from rugby union.

The Scottish Rugby Union
Scottish Rugby Union
The Scottish Rugby Union is the governing body of rugby union in Scotland. It is the second oldest Rugby Union, having been founded in 1873, as the Scottish Football Union.-History:...

 was a particular bastion of amateurism and extreme care was taken to avoid the 'taint' of professionalism: a player rejoining the national team after the end of the Second World War applied to be issued with a new shirt and was reminded that he had been supplied with a shirt prior to the outbreak of hostilities.

In Wales the position was more equivocal with clubs attempting to stem the tide of players going north with boot money a reference to the practice of putting cash payments into player's footwear whilst they were cleaning up after a game. Sometimes payments were substantial. Barry John
Barry John
Barry John is a former Welsh rugby union fly-half who played, during the amateur era of the sport, in the 1960s and early 1970s. John began his rugby career as a schoolboy playing for his local team Cefneithin RFC before switching to first-class west Wales team Llanelli RFC in 1964...

 was once asked why he hadn't turned professional and responded I couldn't afford to.

Rugby union was declared "open" in August 1995 - almost exactly 100 years after the original split occurred - meaning that professionalism has been permitted in both rugby codes since that date. However, while the professional-amateur divide remained in force, there was originally very limited crossover between the two codes, the most obvious occasions being when top-class rugby union players 'switched codes' to rugby league in order to play professionally. Welsh international Jonathan Davies was a high-profile example of this switch. Since professionalism has been allowed in Rugby Union the switches have started to come the opposite way. Union has swiftly grown to embrace the professional game with many League players joining union to take a slice of the larger amounts of money available in the sport.

Nowadays, somewhat ironically, while rugby union no longer makes the professional-amateur distinction, the professional-amateur split still exists within rugby league with the British Amateur Rugby League Association
British Amateur Rugby League Association
The British Amateur Rugby League Association is the governing body for social and recreational rugby league in the United Kingdom...

 (BARLA) strictly amateur, though it allows some ex-professionals to play provided they are no longer under contract. The most recent club to get a ban for fielding a contracted professional was Brighouse Rangers who were expelled from the National Conference League
National Conference League
The National Conference League is the top league in the pyramid of amateur rugby leagues run by the British Amateur Rugby League Association...

 during 2007-2008 season, and the player handed a sine die ban (though in part for gouging ), although the club itself has since been admitted to the Pennine League.

High school sports

Sports teams commonly exist at the high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 level; students who participate, commonly referred to as student athlete
Student athlete
A student athlete is a term used to describe a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled, a term primarily used in the United States. It is used to describe the direct balance of a full-time student and a full-time athlete...

s, do so during their course of study. Occasionally, sports success in high school sports may lead to a professional career in the field.

The benefit of sports in high school is debated; some believe that they promote discipline and teamwork, while others find that they can cause injury.

Other sports

In Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

, or GAA, protects the amateur status of the country's national sports, including Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

, Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 and Camogie
Camogie is an Irish stick-and-ball team sport played by women; it is almost identical to the game of hurling played by men. Camogie is played by 100,000 women in Ireland and world wide, largely among Irish communities....

. Major tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 championships prohibited professionals until 1968 but the subsequent admission of professionals virtually eliminated amateurs from public visibility. Golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 still has amateur championships but their champions are far more obscure than professional champions and very few of those who compete in open events are not professionals. Paying players was considered disreputable in baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 until 1869.

In motorsports, amateur racing is more commonly known as Club Racing, sanctioned by the SCCA
Sports Car Club of America
The Sports Car Club of America is a club and sanctioning body supporting road racing, rallying, and autocross in the United States. Formed in 1944, it runs many programs for both amateur and professional racers.-History:...

 and others.

See also

  • History of English amateur cricket
    History of English amateur cricket
    The history of English amateur cricket describes the concept and importance of amateur players in English cricket.-Co-development of amateur and professional cricket to 1800:...

  • Gaelic Athletic Association
    Gaelic Athletic Association
    The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

  • Boot money scandal
    Boot money scandal
    Boot money refers to money paid privately or anonymously to amateur athletes, often to circumvent laws or league regulations prohibiting athlete compensation. It can be paid as an incentive to win or as a reward for a good performance, but especially in more recent times can involve a company...

  • History of rugby union
    History of rugby union
    The history of rugby union follows from various football games played long before the 19th century, but it was not until the middle of that century that rules were formulated and codified....

  • History of rugby league
    History of rugby league
    The history of rugby league as a separate form of rugby football goes back to 1895 in Huddersfield, Northern England when the Northern Rugby Football Union broke away from the established Rugby Football Union to administer its own separate competition. Similar schisms occurred later in Australia...

  • Professional sports
    Professional sports
    Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance. Professional athleticism has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larger audiences, so that sports organizations...

  • Athletic director
    Athletic director
    An athletic director is an administrator at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, who oversees the work of coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic programs...

External links

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