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‘The committee is not in favour of professional coaches’: preparing for Paris in 1924.

Day, Dave (2014) ‘The committee is not in favour of professional coaches’: preparing for Paris in 1924. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The debates over coaching and training that followed the disappointing performance of the British team at Stockholm in 1912 suggested that the ethos of amateurism, which had, at least superficially, informed the practice of the nation’s elite athletes for over forty years, was at last being challenged. Disappointingly, though, for those progressives arguing for professional coaching support for international athletes, the First World War interrupted their attempts to modernise and post-war elite sport was characterised by a resumption of traditional amateur attitudes among National Governing Body officials. In the twelve months before the 1924 Paris Olympics, however, the debate was revived by individuals concerned about Britain’s lack of competitiveness in the international arena, most especially in throwing and jumping events. In late 1923, the British Olympic Association (BOA) initiated an investigation into the state of British athletics and this paper considers the evidence presented to the short-lived BOA Decies Commission, which was active throughout December and which interviewed coaches, athletes, and administrators. Using original transcripts of these meetings, this paper highlights the key concerns of these witnesses about coaching and coaches before drawing some conclusions about attitudes to professional coaches in Britain in the 1920s.

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