Are Professional Athletes Really Professional ?

In class, we discussed professionalism and what jobs are considered professional. One job that gets to own professionalism is professional athletes. They get to use professional as their title. However, are they really professional? The definition of professionalism from our lecture is “an occupational grouping that has the sole authority to recruit, train and supervise its own members.” Under this definition professional athletes are not all that professional. They do train, but they do not do their own recruiting, and their job is not to supervise. So why do we consider them professional? We consider them professional because they get paid more than the average household income, they have professional training, they have sponsorships, and they are a step above amateurism. They certainly do not work a nine to five job, they do not dress in business attire, and though they do get recruited themselves but athletes do not do the actual recruiting.

In the reading, The Dynamics of Modern Sport: Notes on Achievement-Striving and the Social Significance of Sporty, Dunning defines professionalism in sports as getting paid and not getting paid. He also discusses how athletes that are professional do not necessarily play for themselves, but more for the fans. He says that amateur athletes play for the enjoyment, and for themselves. In my opinion, professional athletes do not meet the political definition of professionalism we discussed in class. It falls more under Dunning’s own definition of professionalism. Professional athletes do not meet the same criteria as doctors, lawyers, or teachers. However, professional athletes are in the public eye, always being watched so they are held to a professional level. They are considered role models for little kids. There are professional athletes that do not always make professional decisions. For example, Michael Phelps has now two DUI’s and has been pictured smoking marijuana. These are things you would not suspect a professional to do or to have on their record. You expect professionals to not even have a record or have that type of negative publicity.

Michael Phelps with gold medal in 2008.

A lot of people determine whether a job is professional or by if it is white-collar or blue-collar. According the business dictionary, white-collar, “refers to employees whose job entails, largely or entirely, mental or clerical work, such as in an office. The term white-collar work used to characterize non-manual workers, but now it refers to employees or professionals whose work is knowledge intensive, non-routine, and unstructured. “ Also according to the business dictionary, blue-collar is defined, “refers to employees whose job entails (largely or entirely) physical labor, such as in a factory or workshop. For a piece of work to be termed blue-collar, it should be directly related to the output generated by the firm, and its end result should be identifiable or tangible.” A professional athlete does not fit into either of these definitions. They certainly do not work in an office and certainly do not do manual labor. So I ask you this, are professional athletes really professional?

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Are Professional Athletes Really Professional ?

  1. I would have to agree that “professional” athletes do not fit the definition of professionalism given, but knowing they don’t fit in that category what do would we really call them? If we called them athletes that would mean they were the same as everyone else and weren’t special for what they are very good at. Also with the Michael Phelps example, I’ve read a number of articles that have talked about how a professional in the business or medical field was caught doing something illegal as well, so I think it is fair to say that other professionals don’t always make professional decisions either. But that is a good question to ask about if professional athletes should really be called professional?

    Like

  2. I really enjoyed your piece. I agree with with tristanj16 that if we call them athletes that maybe they are the “same as everyone else” but maybe our definition of athletes should change. When you’re in high school sports should you really share a label with people in the NBA? What if the term player was coined instead for what we recognize as athletes for those who aren’t on a high level of competitiveness. Or at least know that with the term athlete comes the distinction that what they do is a mixture of work and play. In terms of professional athletes being truly professional, I don’t know that I can answer that or that anyone can really. It’s subjective to the person. Ask a former athlete or fan and they’ll tell you that pros are hardworking. Ask a rocket scientist and he would never directly compare what an athlete does to what he does. It’s truly subjective but for me I’d say they fall in a separate category leaning towards professionalism.

    Also you bring up an interesting point towards the end. Do you not think that blue-collar workers can be professional or that all white-collar workers automatically are?

    Like

  3. Regardless of the actual definition of “professionalism”, I have always though that in order to classify athletes as professional they need to be paid. In the case of something such as Olympic basketball, the United States team is composed of “professionals” who get paid to play in the NBA as their everyday job. Prior to 1992, Olympic basketball players were always considered amateur because they were college students and were not being compensated for the game they were playing. Calling somebody an actual professional has different meanings in different wakes of life as somebody could argue that professional people work in offices their entire life while others could see being professional in the simple terms of being paid to do work.

    Like

  4. If we’ve learned anything about definitions, especially from Huizinga’s definition of play, it is that they are very complex. It is hard to dictionary define open ended terms much like professionalism. If you stick to the in class or dictionary definition, yes, it is true that professional athletes aren’t professionals. But in the real world I would have to disagree with you. Professional athletes work tirelessly to improve their game, to represent the organizations they play for, and to perform the best at their job that not many people could do. Their field is very specialized, requires a certain hard to find skill set, and they earn wages that make them elite members of society. These descriptions I think more than justify that professional athletes are professional, even if they aren’t sitting at a desk working nine to five in a suit and tie.

    Like

  5. I agree with you somewhat in the fact that professional athletes lead a different sort of workplace environment than many. However, I do still think professional athletes are professional. With regards to recruiting, many athletes do have to do their own recruiting in the same way people do in any form of work. While the obvious outliers are the athletes such as LeBron James of Payton Manning who are wanted by all, lower-tier players need to work to find themselves a job. That is similar to a business role in which great businessmen will be recruited for jobs while not as prominent workers will have to go out an fend for themselves. Athletes do have a lot of non-traditional forms of professionalism, but overall I believe that, in general, professional athletes are professional.

    Like

  6. Professional athletes are labeled “professional” because they are the BEST at what they do. Your comment towards the end of your blog, I quote, “There are professional athletes that do not always make professional decisions. For example, Michael Phelps has now two DUI’s and has been pictured smoking marijuana. These are things you would not suspect a professional to do or to have on their record. You expect professionals to not even have a record or have that type of negative publicity.” While this may be true, this is not just professional athletes making decisions that may not reflect them in the best light. There are PLENTY of professionals that make poor decisions, or involved in scandals. Athletes, however, on a much bigger platform and are constantly under a microscope with people just waiting for them to mess up–therefore their stories are released to the media and made into a much bigger deal than many other professionals. I believe that professional athletes are absolutely professional.

    Like

  7. Yes, I agree that professional athletes are the best in the world at what they do. They are held to a higher standard and are expected to be leaders and role models to the youth and in the eye of the public. With all that being said, professional athletes are still regular human beings who make mistakes and have flaws and imperfections. I don’t believe it’s fair to judge and pinpoint the negative and the mistakes that athletes make, overshadowing the good and the performance they give us every time they play and compete. Professional athletes are called professionals because they are playing at the highest level of competition, their always in the public eye and they are admired by many. The make mistakes, just like everyone else but that doesn’t make them less of a professional.

    Like

Comments are closed.