Amateurs vs. Professionals (1910)

Control of Motor Boat Racing in America

President of the Power Boat Association Suggests That A. A. U. Government Plan Should Be Adopted Here

Two Long Distance Races to Be Decided here

The proposed division of the sport of motor boat racing into strictly drawn amateur and professional classes—with those who race solely for cups and those who are out for cash purses and as members of the trade on the other—has become a subject of no little discussion among the devotees of the game.

President Herman T. Koerner of the American Power Boat Association, the organization which it is thought will take the matter up and be the parent body if the two classes are firmly and separately established, says that the present situation, "a hopeless, jumbled-up one, is scarcely suited to awaken unbounded enthusiasm, which must be evident even to a tyro."

Speaking at length on the existing conditions in motor boat racing and the causes that in part led up to them, President Koerner said:

"I want to speak first about the idea of creating an `new motor boat
governing body.’ To do such a thing would be to confuse still more hopelessly
the present tangled situation and duplicate the machinery which is now robustly
in existence. Such duplication would of necessity be weak, ephemeral, abortive, and
certainly experimental.
"Let me outline clearly just what I mean. The accident of holding the British International Cup by the Motor Boat Club of America is due, of course, to Commodore Schroeder’s victory with Dixie II. He happened to be a Commodore of the club when he won the trophy. Unquestionably the British motor boatmen believed this organization to be the national representative.
"Englishmen are sticklers for conditions binding any sporting event, and will insist, usually, upon the minutest detail being observed.
"Even if the Motor Boat Club of America had been able to control its own affairs without interference by the Automobile Club, we have the spectacle of international motor boat races represented by duly qualified representatives of British motor boat clubs on the one hand and a local New York power boat body on the other.
"Therefore, to propose, even for the sake of argument, that there should be the establishment of another power boat governing body, is really to ask for the ridiculous. It would cut a fine figure with all these tails affixed, wouldn’t it? You couldn’t see the dog for tails, and, were the appendices all to wag simultaneously, a modern windmill in furious action would be a tame sight in comparison.
"Any duplication of National bodies can only have a precarious existence at the expense of the vitality of the now existing one. It is very unwise to do this if the best interests of the sport are to be considered.
"Of course, if personal advancement, local pride, or outside selfish interests are to be served, such a duplication might be excused. But if the genuine interests of amateur sportsmen are to be considered first, last, and all the time, then let there be a stop to the weakening influences that crop up so persistently everywhere and upon the slightest provocation.
"The dual existence suggested by Dr. J. M. Gibbons—one section amateurs and the other for professionals and trade—is, to my mind, an attempt to mix oil and water. It seems to me that under present conditions a mixture of these (now) diametrically opposed interests is impossible.
"The ideals of the amateur run counter to the methods of commercialism, and have in every case that I know of resulted disastrously to both when an attempt has been made to govern them under one head. The safest and sanest model, I think, by which the sport of motor boat racing should be guided, is the Amateur Athletic Union. If its principles are applied to the sport of power craft racing such action will result in lifting to the highest plane every phase of our sport, and will compel proper and true motor boat development.
"The American Power Boat Association is now the purest organization. It is growing by leaps and bounds. Its history proves that it is what the name implies. If all those interested in amateur sport will give us a helping hand we shall be able to enforce the strictest rules of amateurism.
"Until amateur motor boat racing is established on a firm footing it is almost useless to talk of trying to govern the professional side of the sport. It will be time enough to take care of the trade interests when the amateurs have been amply taken care of, and amateur racing put on such a firm foundation that nothing can shock or injure it from the outside.
"It is to the best interests of the trade that such a condition be brought about at the earliest possible moment. The trade should discourage any attempt to enter the classes and ranks of the amateurs, thereby to kill with foolish haste the goose that is laying the golden egg.
"Put the thing squarely up to the clubs. Let those clubs that wish to stand out as amateur organizations see to it that the prizes they offer and compete for are devoid of commercial features and the contests for those trophies the same. The spirit of fine sport—in motor boat racing or anything else—must start from the small body and grow upward as well as be spread abroad by the parent body. Unless the desire for clean motor boat racing exists among the clubs of this country there can be no such thing."

(Transcribed from the New York Times, May 15,1910, Sect. IV p.4.)