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OLYMPIANS PUT AVERY BRUNDAGE ON THE SPOT
August 27, 1956
It is doubtful that fans, officials and participants in U.S. amateur sport have ever been stirred, en masse, to quite the sort of baffled indignation which was set off this month by the publication of the new Olympic amateur oath. Under its terms an Olympic Games competitor must promise to "remain" an amateur, apparently for life. Last week, as officials in Melbourne began sending pledge forms to athletes around the world, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's James Murray, acting as a sort of surrogate for U.S. Olympic athletes, sought out Avery Brundage of Chicago, president and philosopher in chief of the International Olympic Committee, who gallantly took the stand, as follows:
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August 27, 1956

Olympians Put Avery Brundage On The Spot

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A The question applies only to the U.S. It has not been denounced universally. After all, we are only one of 80 countries. And even here in the U.S.—why, just because your opponent makes the most noise doesn't mean everybody disapproves along with him.

Q Do you still believe the revision is fair or have you done some second thinking?

A I can see and will admit that in the existing climate of amateur sports there have been many people who have been shocked to find there still remain a few amateur standards. I will say that the protest of the American Olympic Committee is legitimate in that, while ignorance of the law is normally no excuse, they really went into the preparation of the American Olympic team without taking this oath into consideration and they now have a team which it may be difficult to replace if it is broken up. But my last year's letter went out to them, so they should have known.

Q Did you as a young man ever have to face this problem, which is essentially a financial problem for the athletes involved?

A That is the old question of this multimillionaire Brundage who sits on top of his moneybags and never had knowledge of privations in his youth. The facts are, I went to college on borrowed money, and what money I have made I earned myself—as an amateur.

Q Well, actually, your main point is that you or your committee is unwilling to undergo a lot of backbreaking work, take a lot of time and energy and even bring whole governments into the picture in order to provide an international showcase for boys who will convert it into personal gain. But aren't you overlooking the fact that, in reality, the countries involved derive huge benefits in terms of tourism and reams of international publicity? The Olympic site is sort of put on the map, isn't it?

A That's true. Why do you think there are 20 cities bidding for it?

Q Well, don't you think that the boys make possible that kind of tangible benefit for the cities involved, and isn't it a small thing to grant them the right to convert their talent into money later on?

A You are overlooking the boys who are genuine amateurs, who are in the Olympic Games for the love of it. The only reward an amateur gets is his brief glory as champion, and he shouldn't be deprived of it by somebody who is going to make a business of what he is doing. If you stage the Games for the professionals, you are not keeping faith with the amateurs, and the Games—under the Olympic ideal—are staged for amateurs. Why should the Games become a vehicle to line somebody's pockets?

Q But haven't you seen where a star football player looks up at 100,000 people who have come to watch him play and wonders why he shouldn't gel in on that revenue? Won't the Olympic athlete want some consideration, at least the right to turn pro? After all, officials derive benefits, trips to meetings and the Games themselves.

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