cover of book

The Myth of the Amateur: A History of College Athletic Scholarships
by Ronald A. Smith
University of Texas Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-1-4773-2288-8 | Cloth: 978-1-4773-2286-4
Library of Congress Classification GV733.S65 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.02373


In this in-depth look at the heated debates over paying college athletes, Ronald A. Smith starts at the beginning: the first intercollegiate athletics competition—a crew regatta between Harvard and Yale—in 1852, when both teams received an all-expenses-paid vacation from a railroad magnate. This striking opening sets Smith on the path of a story filled with paradoxes and hypocrisies that plays out on the field, in meeting rooms, and in courtrooms—and that ultimately reveals that any insistence on amateurism is invalid, because these athletes have always been paid, one way or another.

From that first contest to athletes’ attempts to unionize and California’s 2019 Fair Pay to Play Act, Smith shows that, throughout the decades, undercover payments, hiring professional coaches, and breaking the NCAA’s rules on athletic scholarships have always been part of the game. He explores how the regulation of male and female student-athletes has shifted; how class, race, and gender played a role in these transitions; and how the case for amateurism evolved from a moral argument to one concerned with financially and legally protecting college sports and the NCAA. Timely and thought-provoking, The Myth of the Amateur is essential reading for college sports fans and scholars.

Nearby on shelf for Recreation. Leisure / Sports / Professionalism in sports. Professional sports (General):