Friday, June 3, 2011

Handball, chess, scholastic competition, and the amateur ideal

Today's New York Times reports that two 17-year-old handball champions were disqualified from the Public Schools Athletic League handball championship "because they had entered a tournament that awarded cash prizes, which is against league rules."

In chess, as in handball, one becomes a better player by facing stronger opponents. I don't like teenagers playing games for money. But I think the definition of "amateur" needs to be re-examined by the Illinois High School Association and Chicago Public Schools. Merely competing against non-amateurs should not jeopardize one's amateur status. In my opinion, it's reasonable to ban students from accepting prizes.

Organizers can help (and possibly help their profit margins) by offering amateur entry fees to their events. If a high school kid can't accept a $5,000 prize, then why should that kid have to pay $200+ to enter the event?

No comments: