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A semi-professional athlete is one who is paid to play and thus is not an amateur
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....

, but for whom 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...

 is not a full-time occupation, generally because the level of pay is too low to make a reasonable living based solely upon that source, thus making the athlete not a full professional athlete
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...


Likewise the term semi-professional can be applied to an artist such as a
photographer or musician
A musician is an artist who plays a musical instrument. It may or may not be the person's profession. Musicians can be classified by their roles in performing music and writing music.Also....* A person who makes music a profession....

 who derives some income from their artistic
endeavors but who must nevertheless take a day job in order to
survive. When applied to vocational tools and equipment, it refers to
products that lie between the amateur and professional levels in both
quality and cost, though nowadays the term prosumer
Prosumer is a portmanteau formed by contracting either the word professional or less often, producer with the word consumer. For example, a prosumer grade digital camera is a "cross" between consumer grade and professional grade...

 is often used instead.


The San Francisco Olympic Club
Olympic Club
The Olympic Club is a San Francisco, California, athletic club and private social club with three golf courses located at San Francisco's border with Daly City, California. The club's main "City Clubhouse" is located in downtown San Francisco. The club's "Lakeside Clubhouse" is located just north...

 fielded a football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 team in 1890. That year, the Olympic Club was accused by a rival club of enticing athletes to jump to its ranks with offers of jobs. An investigation by the Amateur Athletic Union
Amateur Athletic Union
The Amateur Athletic Union is one of the largest non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs.-History:The AAU was founded in 1888 to...

 ruled that the Olympics' practice was not actually professionalism but only a "semi" form of it, thus inventing the term "semi-pro
Semi-pro may refer to:* a semi-professional athlete* Semi-Pro, a 2008 sports comedy starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and Andre Benjamin...

". Although the Amateur Athletic Union didn't like the idea very much, it decided that clubs could indeed offer employment without losing their amateur status
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....

 or compromising the athlete.

North America

In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, semi-professional athletes and teams were far more common in the early and mid-20th century than they are today. There are many benefits, such as collegiate eligibility and the attendant scholarships
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...

, in maintaining amateur status. Eligibility for participation in the Olympics
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...

 in some sports is still dependent upon maintaining a purely amateur status (although far less so than was previously the case), and such athletes may be supported by government money, business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 sponsorships, and other systems. At the same time, professional sports have become such a massive and remunerative business that even many low-level feeder teams can afford to have fully professional athletes.

United Kingdom

There are many semi-professional football
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

 teams at non-League
Non-league football
Non-League football is football in England played at a level below that of the Premier League and The Football League. The term non-League was commonly used well before 1992 when the top football clubs in England all belonged to The Football League; all clubs who were not a part of The Football...

 level. The bottom division of The Football League
The Football League
The Football League, also known as the npower Football League for sponsorship reasons, is a league competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888, it is the oldest such competition in world football...

 (the fourth tier of the English football league system
English football league system
The English football league system, also known as the football pyramid, is a series of interconnected leagues for association football clubs in England, with six teams from Wales also competing...

) has traditionally been the cut-off between professional ("full-time") and semi-professional ("part-time") in English football. However, many teams in the top non-League
Non-league football
Non-League football is football in England played at a level below that of the Premier League and The Football League. The term non-League was commonly used well before 1992 when the top football clubs in England all belonged to The Football League; all clubs who were not a part of The Football...

 competition, the Conference National
Conference National
Conference National is the top division of the Football Conference in England. It is the highest level of the National League System and fifth highest of the overall English football league system...

 have become "full-time" in an effort to achieve League status.

Women's football in England
Women's football in England
While women's football has been played in England for over a century, it has only been in the 1990s that the game has seen a large increase in female players, as well as in female spectators, culminating in England hosting the Women's European Championships in 2005....

 is semi-professional at the top levels, as finances depend both on promotion and relegation
Promotion and relegation
In many sports leagues around the world, promotion and relegation is a process that takes place at the end of each season. Through it, teams are transferred between divisions based on their performance that season...

 of parent male teams as of the female teams themselves. Full professionalism for women is thus still in the planning stages; top female players often depend on other sources of income (such as coaching and physical training), and many attend university or college while playing.

In Scottish football, semi-professional teams compete at all levels below the Scottish Premier League
Scottish Premier League
The Scottish Premier League , also known as the SPL , is a professional league competition for association football clubs in Scotland...

, with most teams below the Scottish First Division being semi-professional.

Historically, English rugby league
Rugby league in England
Rugby league football is a team sport in England. The sport receives funding from Sport England as an "English priority" sport. The top-level competition in England—called Super League—is not an entirely all-English affair, as it includes a team from France, and also featured a team from Wales from...

 and rugby union
Rugby union in England
Rugby union is one of the leading professional and recreational team sports in England. A popular myth is that Rugby was created in England in 1823, when William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a football match at Rugby School. In 1871 the RFU was formed by 21 clubs and the...

 have had one full-time professional division, with semi-professional divisions at the next level down. The second tier of union, the RFU Championship
RFU Championship
The RFU Championship replaced National Division One as the second tier in the English rugby union system in September 2009. Unlike National Division One, which is semi-professional, the RFU Championship is a fully professional league.-History:...

, became fully professional beginning with the 2009–10 season.