The amateur ideal and British sports diplomacy, 1900-1945

Polley, Martin (2006) The amateur ideal and British sports diplomacy, 1900-1945. Sport in History, 26, (3), 450-467.


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Traditionally, governments working within liberal democratic traditions have been wary of intervening in sport. As a cultural activity, this tradition has seen sport as an area that should, ideally, be free from political intervention, and should operate as a neutral and voluntary activity. This has contrasted with the sports policies of governments from other traditions, with communist and fascist governments in particular taking a more direct approach to sport, and developing links between physical culture and their wider ideologies. Using sports diplomacy as a case study in governmental involvement in sport, this chapter explores some of the ways in which amateurism itself was an ideology in British state thinking. While the amateur ideal was often undermined by pragmatism in response to particular situations, forcing governments to intervene more directly in sport than they would have liked, amateurism remained something of a core value in the Foreign Office’s view of sport. This will be explored through various instances of sports diplomacy from the first half of the twentieth century.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1746-0263 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: sport, history, diplomacy, amateurism, professionalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JZ International relations
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Leadership, School Improvement and Effectiveness
ePrint ID: 42060
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
December 2006Published
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:14

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