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Professional athletes in the Olympics, aren't they supposed to be amateurs?

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  • Professional athletes in the Olympics, aren't they supposed to be amateurs?

    I've always wondered this and remember some discussion on it many years ago and can't remember the answer (showing my age lol). The Olympics are supposed to be for amateur athletes only (or is this not a requirement anymore?). So how do all the obviously pro riders who make their living from the horse business get around the amateur athlete requirement? Ditto I guess there are pro baseball, basketball, tennis etc players in there too I think (don't really follow other sports or know "who's who" but I think there are big names and multi-million dollar earning athletes in there too right?)

    Anyone know the answer

  • #2
    yeah, well, I guess, but some time ago the rule was dropped, so the Germans could bring Steffie Graf and the US the Dream Team.

    Then again, it's not such a long leap from having 'Carrier Soldiers' participate....or people who had a cushy job with a major sponsor....

    It's just, the Dream Team, and the Tennis players burn my butt....I mean.... with THAT much money....most other sports just don't pay that well...jealousy I suppose!


    • #3
      I don't mind that the amateur rule is gone, because the whole reason it was there to begin with was that the rich didn't want to have to compete alongside (heavens! quelle horror!) working class men, therefore the amateur rule, because working class people, unlike "gentlemen," could not afford to train because they had to earn their living.

      <<Coubertin and the IOC intended from the start for the Olympics to be open only to amateurs. Amateurism was determined by adherence to the amateur rule, which was originally devised in the 19th century to prevent working-class athletes from participating in sports such as rowing and tennis. Because the amateur rule prevented athletes from earning any pay from activities in any way related to sports, working-class athletes could not afford to make a living and train for competition at the same time. >>

      Quote is from MSN encarta, but you can find the info anywhere.

      The modern reason to eliminate the rule was so that you had the best of every sport, which, let's face it, is either professional athletes like NBA players, or else athletes who live at training centers all-year round practicing. That certainly isn't "amateur."


      • #4
        The rule was changed in more recent years so that top level athletes in any sport could come to compete.


        • #5
          It was my understanding that we got the rules changed during the Cold War so we could beat the state-supported athletes coming out of the Communist sports machines.
          According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


          • #6
            eligibility for the OG is now left up to each sport's international federation (since the early '80s). so an individual sport can still have an amateur rule if they want; they have changed at various times. equestrian changed for '88, along w/tennis, basketball in '92.


            • #7
              There was a thread on this very subject here earlier. Lexi is correct, a sport's governing body makes the decision on eligibility (for instance, in men's football -- or soccer in this confused corner of the world -- limits the number of players over the age of 23; the reasoning is that the World Cup is the premiere and paramount competition, so the Olympics should be more of a showcase for younger players and not take away any of the gloss from the World Cup).

              As others have noted, the change was to even the playing field (so to speak) between true amateurs in some countries and the state-sponsored athletes of others. IMHO, it's really cheapened some of the sports (i.e. men's basketball, tennis).
              Congratulate me! My CANTER cutie is an honor student at Goofball University!


              • #8
                The Olympics were restricted to filthy rich amateurs who had all the time in the world to exercise because they didn't need to have jobs.

                Now the Olympics are restricted to filthy rich professionals who have all the time in the world to exercise because that's their job.

                BIG DIFF.

                Except that that's not exactly the way it is. There are a lot of different kinds of athletes in the Olympics. Some are on professional teams, like basketball players, and others are living very modestly, and giving up alot to do other more minor sports.


                • #9
                  slc nails it. And the cold war was part of it, because one way around the rule was to get someone a sinecure that would allow them to be paid while training and competing full time. Even so, for equestrian, most of the international riders, even though they rode full time, were international amateurs. Only a few, like Rodney Jenkins, were considered professionals. I'm not quite sure how that all worked out: I expect a lot of it went through the USET with earmarked contributions.
                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                  • #10
                    Avery Brundage

                    The amateur rule went out with IOC president Avery Brundage, its last fervent supporter. A not very flattering Wikipedia entry can be found here.
                    But all the finest horsemen out—the men to Beat the Band—
                    You’ll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand


                    • #11
                      also, the boundaries between amateur and professional were never clear to begin with. I remember reading that Jim Thorpe, who won the decathlon in 1912, later had his medal taken away because he once earned 20 bucks or so playing a bit of baseball or football. What a nonsense.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lexi View Post
                        eligibility for the OG is now left up to each sport's international federation (since the early '80s). so an individual sport can still have an amateur rule if they want; they have changed at various times. equestrian changed for '88, along w/tennis, basketball in '92.
                        Well, that can't be right. The US SJ were pro's in 1984. Right? Joe Fargis, Conrad Homfeld, Leslie (Lenehan) Howard and Melanie Smith. They had all turned pro prior to the Olympics, right? I was a kid, so maybe I'm wrong.

                        The event team was: Mike Plumb, Torrence Watkins, Karen Stives and Bruce Davidson. I think the 'girls' were ammys, uh, right?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pat View Post
                          Well, that can't be right. The US SJ were pro's in 1984. Right? Joe Fargis, Conrad Homfeld, Leslie (Lenehan) Howard and Melanie Smith. They had all turned pro prior to the Olympics, right? I was a kid, so maybe I'm wrong.

                          The event team was: Mike Plumb, Torrence Watkins, Karen Stives and Bruce Davidson. I think the 'girls' were ammys, uh, right?
                          My understanding is that they were "bending the rules" in '84.

                          See the other thread.

                          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                          • #14
                            Ian Millar was named to the Canadian Equestrian Team in 1971 and went to his first Olympics in 1972.

                            When did he turn pro?

                            ETA: now that I think of it I'm sure I remember watching him jumping on TV at Spruce Meadows in the 70s. No way he was an amateur back then.

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                            Custom Swarovski®, Czech glass and gemstone browbands in Circlet, Diadem and Tiara styles. Matching stock pins, bracelets and belts.


                            • #15
                              This was discussed earlier on this thread.
                              Basically the synopsis is that the Olympics were opened up to pro riders in '88. In the period between '72 and '84 there was a gradual slide where riders who were for all intents and purposes pros started to show up in all three Olympic disciplines under the guise of amatuerism. Some countries respected the rule more so than others.
                              By the time '84 came around it had basically become a farce (look at the list on the other thread of showjumpers from the US, GB and GER who competed in those games, mostly famous well known pros), which may have been the impetus behind opening the doors in '88.