In praise of amateurs

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Just before dropping them.

The professionalization of sports and many other pursuits has unfortunately lead to the disparagement of non-professionals, often derisively called “amateurs”. In some sports the most successful professionals can become filthy rich, and are idolized by fans, while the amateurs in the same sport live in the shadows, and get treated like untouchables at the bottom of the rigid athletic caste system. Okay, so it’s not that bad, but you get my point.

But it wasn’t always this way. The word “amateur” comes from the Latin root “ami”, for “love”. Amateurs do what they do out of love, not because they seek wealth or acclaim, though these aren’t necessarily bad things. And all professionals were once amateurs. Amateurs used to get more respect. In fact, until the 1970s, the Olympics only allowed amateur athletes to compete(this rule was changed since it tended to favor athletes from affluent backgrounds who could spend all their time training instead of working).

Keep doing what you love. You are you, so there is no need to compare yourself to professionals(or anyone for that matter) with their unique biochemical make up and upbringing. Embrace the term “amateur”. Whether you’re an amateur runner, or cyclist, or climber, or skater, or ninja you can still be super-fit without being super-famous. Strive for excellence, but on your own terms.

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