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    The Olympics, amateurism and Britain’s coaching heritage

    Day, Dave, Carter, Neil and Carpenter, Tegan (2013) The Olympics, amateurism and Britain’s coaching heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 19 (2). pp. 139-152. ISSN 1470-3610

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    Although an increase in the quality and availability of sports coaching is one of the ‘soft’ legacy targets for the organisers of London 2012, little is actually known about the ongoing relationships between the Olympic Games and Britain’s coaching traditions, social practices which form an important part of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Using newspaper reports and organisational archives, this paper explores how the London Games in 1908 and 1948 impacted on British attitudes to coaching at the level of elite sport and highlights in the process the lasting impact of the cultural heritages of amateurism and voluntarism. The debates and coaching initiatives that followed these Games challenged some of the fundamental tenets of British sporting heritage but amateurism was so ingrained into the sporting culture that changes were always slow and highly contested. As Britain prepares for 2012, coaching is at the forefront of the drive for success but the experiences of previous home Olympics suggest that cultural heritages such as coaching practice can be highly resistant to change and that intangibles such as preferences for voluntarism will continue to impact on attempts to professionalise coaching.

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