In 2005, sport and exercise medicine (SEM) was granted the status of a fully fl edged medical specialty and was made available on the National Health Service (NHS) for injured recreational athletes. It was part of wider government strategies concerning national well-being and was an attempt to defuse a ticking public health time bomb posed by growing national levels of physical inactivity and obesity. The origins of this announcement can be traced back to the formation of the British Association of Sport and Medicine (BASM) in 1952.1

The story of BASM is also a history of sports medicine as a profession and a medical subdiscipline. In this sense, BASM comprises the cognitive component around which medical personnel have defi ned their profession. This consists of medical knowledge, the ethics that regulate relationships between practitioners and between practitioners and patients and institutional arrangements by which medicine perpetuates itself. Importantly, Gelfand has argued that one recurrent theme throughout the history of the medical profession has been the challenge in defi ning who is a member and who is not on the basis of these three criteria.2 The pursuit of professional authority and expertise within BASM, like other medical organizations, has been a keenly contested area, which has resulted in disputes and power struggles among its members.