"Professionalism was continually invoked as the primary means of improvement, whereas amateurishness was mocked as a laughable relic. But it was often unclear to me what the word professionalism meant. “What we really need,” people would say, is “a good, solid professional win.” How does that differ, I always wanted to ask, from a normal kind of win? In fact, professionalism wasn’t so much a real process as a form of self-definition. We had to become ever-more professional, because that was the lens through which we interpreted progress and success."
The concept of professionalism (often of a MacIntyreian kind) has been considered (and generally celebrated) by a range of authors in the philosophy of sport (for examples below) but perhaps it's time, as Smith says, to realise that unrealistic expectations of professionalism can end up acting as a straight-jacket.
Howe, P.D. (2004) Sport, Professionalism and Pain: ethnographies of injuries and risk