I suggested in the opening chapter that any set of ideas at any one time and place can either be taken seriously on their merits or treated as ideology, explained in terms of their function in respect of social status and power. Of course, we can do both at once, but there is a tendency for the one approach to undermine the other. If we construct sociological explanations of belief such that we are inclined to say, ‘They would believe that, wouldn’t they?’ there is a tendency to consider the ideas as less important in themselves. Correspondingly, if we think that a body of ideas is logically compelling or ethically coherent, the explanations of why they may have been believed in a particular context seem less important. In understanding Isaac Newton’s theological preoccupations it may be important to understand the social setting of late seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century England, but this is generally less true of his theory of gravity. Protestant theology in general presents a good example of this distinction. On the whole, in the twentieth century it has been widely discussed as ideology, but studied as doctrine only in narrow segments of society; many more people can tell you the difference between Marxist and Weberian accounts of the causal relation of Protestantism to individualism and capitalism than can tell you what Luther and Calvin actually believed. Amateurism is like Protestantism in this respect: it is generally treated by

scholars as the ideological covering for something else. As the historian Richard Holt remarks, ‘Amateurism...has been widely but not directly discussed; it is usually seen in terms of something else, a dimension of “hegemony”, or “Darwinism”, “imperialism”, “the Civilizing Process” or even a part of a revival of “chivalry”.’1 In seeking to develop the academic study of the politics of sport I and others have casually referred to the ‘amateur-elite ethos’ as if amateurism needed no distinction from elitism.2 Thus the paucity of books which are overtly about amateurism. In short, we can distinguish two traditions of the scholarly analysis of amateurism. Amateurism as ideology has been widely researched and the subject of vigorous, even bitter, controversy which is now largely resolved in favour of one side: the resulting consensus will be summarized later. Amateurism as ethical philosophy or political theory has been barely treated seriously and it is one of the central objects of this book to begin to develop a coherent defence of amateurism.