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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)

Donald Budge, Amateur Sportsman

Donald Budge, Amateur Sportsman.

There may, or may not, have been need to make excuses for the behaviour of Donald Budge in his exhibition tennis match against Gottfried Von Cramm in Sydney recently, but there is a moral for sports administrators—and competitors—behind the demonstration which followed his poor showing. Budge contends that a man cannot be at his best all the time; deny that, one cannot. The Australian authorities—and the people who paid large sums to see the world star play—expected him to turn on a scintillating display. Were they justified in expecting this simply because they brought him from America?

Budge is an amateur—he is not a professional—and claims to play the game for the game's sake. But what has been rightly termed “turnstile amateurism” has reared its ugly head. The ideals of amateurism cannot be carried out while spectators are allowed to call the tune— and they are justified in calling the tune so long as admission charges are made!

Behind the extreme conservatism of the English Rugby Union is the spirit of amateurism—playing the game for the game's sake—and ignoring the wants of the spectators. One cannot deny that sport, even the Olympic Games, is developing into a spectacle for the masses instead of a recreation for the participants. The spirit of the day calls for professionalism of the competitor—even if the man who provides the spectacle is denied the payment of a professional.

Just what Americans think of Budge is shown by the Sullivan Memorial Award being allotted him. This award is made to the athlete—in any branch of American sport—who is considered to have given the greatest service, in all respects, to amateur sport during the year. Past winners include Glenn Cunningham, Bill Bonthron, Bobby Jones, Jim Bausch, and Lawson Little. It is the highest honour awarded in America.