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‘No fee was to be charged for their services’: British Athletics Coaching in the 1930s”

Day, David (2018) ‘No fee was to be charged for their services’: British Athletics Coaching in the 1930s”. In: International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport (19th ISHPES Congress), 18 July 2018 - 21 July 2018, University of Munster-Westphalia, Germany. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Harold Perkin described inter-war British society as being in a ‘transitional stage, a sort of halfway house in which remnants of Victorianism…co-existed with harbingers of the future’ and this applied to all aspects of social, political and economic life, including sport, where class dynamics continued to exert an influence. Since the inception of the BOC in 1905 all six of its presidents and ten of its thirteen chairpersons held aristocratic titles and this elitism was reflected by the large proportion of university men, including twelve Oxbridge blues, who comprised the track and field team at Stockholm in 1912. This led one critic to observe that ‘Caste rules the world of athletes and all is snobbery...At present the whole tendency seems to be that only public school and university men shall have all the chances.’ Little changed in the post war period and continuities between the old and the new are examined here through the lens of sports coaching. This paper draws on biographical sources, contemporary accounts and texts to explore the ongoing influence of amateurism through a brief analysis of a group of volunteer athletics coaches and argues that amateurism left a legacy that continued to influence mid to late twentieth-century athletics.

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