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Massaging the amateur ethos: professional coaches at Stockholm in 1912

Day, Dave (2011) Massaging the amateur ethos: professional coaches at Stockholm in 1912. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Received wisdom concerning elite sports participation in Britain during the period before the First World War suggests that this was an activity pursued by men, and occasionally women, who eschewed the systematic training regimes and a reliance on professional coaching epitomised by their American counterparts in favour of the moral values associated with amateurism. The concept of amateurism, however, was always more fluid than is sometimes assumed and this paper explores the background of some of those who accompanied the British team to the Olympic Games at Stockholm in 1912 to illustrate that professional trainers played an essential supporting role across a number of sports. Particular attention is paid to athletic trainers Alec Nelson and Bill Thomas, who were closely related to Cambridge and Oxford Universities respectively during the 1920s and 1930s, and to swimming trainers Walter Brickett and Mrs. Jarvis. It appears that the high status amateurs who represented their country at the Games were just as appreciative of the input of these specialists as were athletes from other nations.

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