The Amateur Athletic Union was a nonprofit organization formed in 1894 to promote the amateur status of the competition. What does aau basketball stand for? The organization’s goal was to “safeguard and develop the game of Recreational Athletics so that corrupt practices or undue influences may not mar its popularity.” To this end, the A.A.U. Issued written rules for all athletics competitions it sanctioned, including auto racing, track and field, wrestling, basketball, and baseball.

It also oversaw the creation of a national testing program for amateur athletes and a national coaching licensure program for coaches. As such, the A.A.U. has been credited with helping to make American sports more professional, and less susceptible to corruption than many other countries’ governing bodies of elite sports may have been at the time.

However, do you feel about the A.A.U.? Today — or maybe never did — you can’t deny that it had one hell of a run in its first half-century (1894-1946). That said, even though the organization has already nearly doubled in size over the past century, there has been much to be done if we keep up with our sporting neighbors down under (and maybe beyond). So what exactly is aau? And how do you become aau? Read on to learn more about this unassuming but important little organization…

What is the Amateur Athletic Union?

The Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.), sometimes known as the Amateur Athletic League (A.L.), was an umbrella organization formed in 1894 to promote the amateur status of the competition. It was formed in response to growing concern about the increasing professionalization of sports and the tendency for athletes to make money from their performance. In the early years of the A.A.U., most of its programs were focused on encouraging and protecting amateur athletes. Still, by the 1920s and ’30s, the organization began to expand its scope to include international competition.

Aau came into being in 1894

Aau was formed in 1894 as a nonprofit organization to promote the amateur status of the competition. At its founding, the A.A.U. was dominated by college or club teams. Still, over the next several decades, the organization expanded its membership to include teams from professional leagues.

The rise and fall of the A.A.U.

The rise and fall of the A.A.U. can be traced back to the actions of two individuals: William T. Sherman, a lawyer and amateur golfer, and George S. Cobb, a professional baseball player, and executive with the Players’ League. Sherman helped bring about the demise of the wooden-spooning, rigidly enforced amateurism that had prevailed in sports in the United States for much of the 20th century. In his view, the game had become too professional and needed a break from the strict rules that had originally made it so popular. But the real catalyst for the demise of the A.A.U. was a machination cooked up by Cobb and his colleagues in the Players’ League to combat the growing popularity of baseball in the United States.

The founding of the Players’ League in 1901 was intended to solve the national problem of player pooling that had grown out of the collapse of the National League in 1890. But two years later, the players struck a deal with Cobb that created a new league with only minor alterations to the original model. In Cobb’s view, creating a new league was the only way to save baseball. With the Players’ League up and running, he argued, the only way to stop the league from becoming too successful was to outlaw it. But Cobb and his colleagues were overruled in 1901 by the National Commission, which declared the new league an amateur organization. The commission also suggested that the term “amateur” be dropped from the organization’s name. Thus was born the A.A.U.

What does aau stand for?

For most of the next century, “A.A.U.” was synonymous with “amateur.” However, in 1972, the organization officially changed its name to “The Amateur Athletic Association” to reflect its growing international profile. The “A” in A.A.A. stands for “active” and “passive.” The “A” in A.A.U. Means “all-active,” “all-passive,” or “active-passive.” The “U” in A.A.U. Stands for “unlimited,” which means that the organization has no restrictions whatsoever on the amount of money spent on athletes’ equipment and training. Thus, the “au” in A.A.U. stands for “anything.”

How to become an A.A.U. member

If you are a professional athlete, you can become an A.A.U. Member by purchasing a club membership. If you are an athlete who is not a professional team member, you can join an A.A.U. Club by paying a small fee to become a member. Suppose you are interested in becoming an A.A.U. Member, the first step is to determine if you qualify. To be classified as an “A” athlete in the A.A.U., you must have been a member of an “A” team for at least one year.

Additionally, you must have competed in at least one event that year if you have questions about qualifying for or joining an A.A.U. Club, you can speak with A.A.U. Membership director Edith Krakovitch.

Reaching out to athletes and youth.

As mentioned above, the A.A.U. also oversees the U.S. testing and licensing of youth athletes, including testing for drugs and a series of physical exams. Please see the U.S. Youth Athletics Association website for more information about testing for youth athletes.

Going global with aau today

In its early years, the A.A.U. was much more focused on promoting the game of football and baseball in the United States than on growing its membership to include other sports. However, as the popularity of other sports grew, members of other teams became interested in joining the A.A.U., and the organization began to consider adding other sports to its membership list. Today, the A.A.U. has over 100 member clubs and organizations and is home to more than 1,300 athletes across 18 different sports.

Future of A.A.U.

Although the future of the A.A.U. is secure, it does have some challenges ahead. The most serious of these is the increasing popularity of other competitive sports. With more people wanting to join the A.A.U. and more teams wanting to be members, it will be difficult for the organization to remain as exclusive as it once was. Additionally, with so many major sporting events taking place worldwide, it will be even more important for the A.A.U. to remain as relevant as possible in the United States, where most of its members live.

The A.A.U. has also faced criticism for being too lenient on players and coaches in disciplinary matters. This can be frustrating because the A.A.U. The Board of Directors has to make difficult decisions each year about which members should be allowed to play and coach and which rules to enforce. Ultimately, if the A.A.U. is to remain relevant in the modern world, it must make a careful and considered decision on how best to balance the needs of its members, the needs of the game, and the needs of the sport itself.


The Amateur Athletic Union was formed in 1894 to promote the amateur status of the competition. In its first 50 years of existence, the A.A.U. grew from a small nonprofit organization to a global organization with more than 100 member clubs and organizations and more than 1,300 athletes across 18 different sports. The future of the A.A.U. is bright, and the future of American amateur athletics is promising.


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